Created in response to the sharp rise in hate directed toward the AAPI community over the past few years, Boston Court Pasadena, East West Players, and Pasadena Playhouse have joined forces to share a virtual reading of Jeanne Sakata’s timely solo play Hold These Truths. The evening is co-directed by Jessica Kubzansky and Margaret Shigeko Starbuck.
Co-director Jessica Kubzansky says, “I have had the privilege of working with Margaret Shigeko Starbuck on Jeanne Sakata’s glorious solo play Hold These Truths with six of the amazing actors who have played Gordon Hirabayashi in a full production. It has been such a joy to witness the gifts of all of these men, each radically different from each other, each bringing their own lived experience to singularly inhabit the role of Gordon Hirabayashi, a true American hero (and through them, we’ve been able to glimpse some of the wonderful directors who have worked with these artists over the years). Witnessing the brilliance of these very different men, and the richly varied ways in which they each authentically inhabit Gordon, has been one of the best gifts of the pandemic.”
This live-streamed event features six of the wonderful actors who have given tour-de-force solo performances as Gordon in Hold These Truths productions across the country and around the world. The event will be hosted by Tamlyn Tomita and Sean Miura and live-streamed on Monday, February 28th at 6PM PST/9PM EST. All attendees must register by visiting bit.ly/HoldTheseTruthsVirtual. The event will be available as a video on demand for 48 hours following the live-stream on the 28th.
All proceeds raised through this event will go to the Consortium of Asian American Theaters and Artists and the incredible work they do to promote AAPI artists and to contribute to our national theatre ecology. You are invited to this special event to honor, support, and uplift our amazing community of AAPI Theatre Artists.
Hold These Truths, an exceptional evening of theatrical storytelling, tells the inspirational true story of a civil rights hero, Gordon Hirabayashi, who took his World War ll fight for his constitutional rights all the way to the Supreme Court. Playwright Jeanne Sakata relayed to BroadwayWorld, “In the 1990’s, I saw on PBS a documentary film made by John de Graaf called A Personal Matter: Hirabayashi vs. The United States, where I first learned about Gordon. And I was just floored, because here was this absolutely riveting story about a young Japanese American college student who had taken such a brave stand for his rights as an American citizen, and I had never heard about him. It was fascinating, and enthralling, and also upsetting at the same time. I asked myself the same question that many people ask when they come to see the play: “Why haven’t I heard this story before? Why isn’t it in our history books?” After that, I became absolutely obsessed with the story and determined that I was going to find out everything I could about it.”
75 years ago, Executive Order 9066 called for all people of Japanese ancestry on the West Coast to be ripped from their homes and forced into barbed-wire prison camps, without due process of law. Amid the chaos, one young student stood up for what he passionately believed were his rights as an American citizen. Based on a true story which follows the life of civil rights hero Gordon Hirabayashi, Hold These Truths is a shockingly relevant cautionary tale of the injustices perpetrated when nationalism, fear, and hysteria collide.
Playwright Jeanne Sakata says, “It’s been an incredible joy and honor to have worked with so many brilliant AAPI actors who have performed Hold These Truths over the last 15 years, and who have shared Gordon Hirabayashi’s story all across the country. With six of those actors – Ryun Yu, Greg Watanabe, Michael Hisamoto, Hansel Tan, Jomar Tagatac, and Steven Eng – now joining forces to raise money for CAATA so that more AAPI artists can share their stories as well, I’m grateful to be reminded of the great power of our individual and collective voices in combating the anti-AAPI hate and violence of our times-the same forces that our parents and grandparents faced so courageously before us-and to celebrate these stories that tell the world, “we are here, and we are here to stay.”
“On behalf of the Board of Directors of CAATA, we have long been fans of playwright Jeanne Sakata and her powerful play about the life of American hero Gordon Hirabayashi, and his resistance to the Japanese American incarceration during World War II,” said CAATA Board President Leslie Ishii. “We are grateful to our member theater East West Players, as well as Boston Court Pasadena and Pasadena Playhouse for designating CAATA the recipient of this benefit. Funds raised will go directly toward CAATA’s programs to advance the field of Asian and Pacific Islander American theater through our national network of organizations and artists, and we thank you for your support.”
CAATA says, “Our mission is to advance the field of Asian American theater through a national network of organizations and artists. We collaborate to inspire learning and sharing of knowledge, and resources to promote a healthy, sustainable artistic ecology. As a collective of Asian American theater leaders and artists, we bring together local and regional leaders to work nationally toward our shared values of social justice, artistic diversity, cultural equity and inclusion. We hold national conferences and festivals biennially in different parts of the country, reaching as wide a range of Asian American populations and communities as possible. We survey Asian American theater artists and organizations to find out their foremost concerns. We form alliances with other theater groups of different affinities to advance mutual goals cooperatively and to exchange ideas and strategies.” (caata.net)
MEET THE ACTORS
Steven Eng is an actor and teacher. His recent acting credits include the Utah Shakespeare Festival (UT), People’s Light (PA), American Conservatory Theater (SF), and Classic Stage Company (NYC). He currently teaches in NYU’s Tisch BFA Drama and Columbia University’s MFA Acting Programs. He is also a co-founder of National Asian Artists Project (NAAP) in NYC.
Michael Hisamoto* (he/him/his) is an actor, playwright, director, and producer who has worked throughout the Greater Boston Area, including the Huntington Theatre Company, Trinity Repertory Company, Lyric Stage Company, SpeakEasy Stage, Wheelock Family Theatre, and many more. A strong proponent of new work, Michael has developed, workshopped, directed, and performed in readings of new plays for companies like The Huntington Theatre Company, The Williamstown Theatre Festival, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, HowlRound, ArtsEmerson, SpeakEasy Stage Company, Gloucester Stage, Company One, Plays in Place, Rhombus Writer’s Group, MIT’s Music and Theatre Arts, Harvard University’s Black Playwrights Festival, Boston University’s School of Theatre, Merrimack Repertory Theatre, The Pao Center For The Arts, Fresh Ink Theatre Company, Central Square Theatre, The Seven Devils New Play Foundry, Brown University/Trinity Repertory Company, Ojai Playwright’s Conference, and more. Michael believes in educating the next generation and happily offers career consultation free of charge to young historically excluded artists. Michael is a graduate of The Orange County High School of the Arts, BFA: Boston University. MFA Candidate ‘22: Brown/Trinity Rep. Proud member of AEA. michaelhisamoto.com
Jomar Tagatac is really excited to part of this event. Most recently he played Gordon Hirabayashi in Hold These Truths at San Francisco Playhouse and Capital Stage in Sacramento, which was the first show to reopen these theaters after 16 months. Other credits include Bob in Wintertime (Berkeley Rep), Mark in Art and Actor 1 in King of the Yees (San Francisco Playhouse) various roles in Today is My Birthday (Theater Mu), Quang in Vietgone (Capital Stage), Playwright in Vietgone and Bob Cratchit in A Christmas Carol (American Conservatory Theater), and George in The Language Archive (Theatreworks). Jomar holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Theater from San Diego Stage University and a Master of Fine Arts Degree from American Conservatory Theater. Currently he is a teaching artist at ACT.
Hansel Tan reps the small island-state of Singapore, and is honored to celebrate and support the work of CAATA. Favorite collaborations — NEW YORK: The Public, Lincoln Center (Avery Fisher), Tectonic, The Flea, Barrow Group, Prospect, Urban Stages, Pan Asian, Ma-Yi, NAAP, Hudson Stage, St Clements, Harbor Lights, NAMT, NYMF. REGIONAL/INT’L: Quantum Theatre, Geva Theatre Centre, TheatreWorks Silicon Valley, Pioneer Theatre, Eugene O’Neill Theatre Centre, North Shore Music Theater, Flat Rock Playhouse, The Village, Token Theatre, Live & In Color, Figurteatret i Nordland, Austin City Limits, Sharjah Water Festival, Aichi World Expo, Singapore Repertory Theatre, Wild Rice, Buds Theatre, Method Productions. TV/FILM: “Complete Unknown” (Amazon), “The Service” (Short), “The Blacklist: Redemption” (NBC), “Madam Secretary” (CBS), “In Game: The Webseries” (Man Powered Films). He is a proud member of Actor’s Equity and SAG-AFTRA, and is a Designated Meisner Teacher.
Greg Watanabe can currently be seen in Our Town, and The Great Leap at Asolo Rep. He made his Broadway debut in Allegiance. Other credits include Off-Broadway appearances in Ballad Of Yachiyo (Public Theater) and Golden Child (Signature Theater). Regionally, he performed in Romeo and Juliet (OSF), The Summer Moon (A Contemporary Theater, South Coast Rep), Extraordinary Chambers (The Geffen Playhouse), The Happy Ones (South Coast Rep), and most recently in Hold These Truths (Virginia Stage Company). Some television credits include “Madam Secretary”, “Criminal Minds”, “Curb Your Enthusiasm”, and “Reno 911”.
Ryun Yu originated the role of Gordon Hirabayashi in Hold These Truths at East West Players, and has since performed it at Arena Stage in Washington D.C., the Pasadena Playhouse, Portland Center Stage, ACT (Seattle), and San Diego Rep, among others. He won the Craig Noel Award for best solo performance at the San Diego Rep. Other theater credits include How the Light Gets In (Boston Court), @TheSpeedofJake (Playwright’s Arena), and Take Me Out (Geffen Playhouse). In TV, Ryun played the recurring character of Pastor Daniel Kwon in the FX show “Baskets” (starring Zach Galifianakis and Louis Anderson), as well as Larry on the Netflix show Fuller House. He also played DHH in David Henry Hwang’s “Yellowface”: the first adaptation of a major play for YouTube (where it can still be viewed). Ryun has the first theater major ever awarded by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
MEET THE HOSTS
Tamlyn Tomita is perhaps best known for her role in “The Karate Kid, Part 2” which is enjoying its renaissance due to the popularity of “Cobra Kai” on Netflix. Other projects she is known for are the films: “The Joy Luck Club”; “The Day After Tomorrow”; “Come See the Paradise” and the TV shows: “The Good Doctor”; “Star Trek: Picard”; “The Man in the High Castle”; “Teen Wolf”; “Berlin Station”; “How to Get Away with Murder”; “Glee”; “True Blood”; “Eureka”; “Heroes”; “Criminal Minds”; and “24”. and will be seen in the upcoming live-action series, “Avatar: The Last Airbender”. A native Los Angeleno, specifically from the (818) and a proud AAPI embracing her Okinawan, Japanese, and Filipino heritages, she continually advocates for stories to be told from a ‘golden’ perspective. And most importantly, she is a proud and loyal UCLA Bruin.
Sean Miura is a writer, producer, and arts organizer. He produces and leads curation for Tuesday Night Cafe, the longest running Asian American public art series.
MEET THE DIRECTORS
Jessica Kubzansky (Co-director) is the Artistic Director of Boston Court Pasadena, and is also an award-winning director working nationally, specializing in risky, adventurous new works and reenvisioned classics. Jessica had the privilege of developing and directing the world premiere of Hold These Truths with Jeanne Sakata and Ryun Yu at East/West Players, and has directed many subsequent productions, including at the Pasadena Playhouse, Arena Stage, ACT (Seattle), Portland Center Stage, San Diego Rep and more. Recently for Boston Court: the world premieres of Kit Steinkellner’s Ladies, Sarah B. Mantell’s Everything That Never Happened, Stefanie Zadravec’s Colony Collapse, Luis Alfaro’s Mojada, A Medea in Los Angeles (a co-production at the Getty Villa), the New York and world premieres of Sheila Callaghan’s Everything You Touch, (a co-pro with Rattlestick Playwrights Theatre at the Cherry Lane), RII (her own three-person reenvisioning of Shakespeare’s Richard II), Michael Elyanow’s The Children, and many more. Recently elsewhere: The Father with Alfred Molina (Pasadena Playhouse), Othello (A Noise Within), Sofia Alvarez’s Amos & Boris, Aditi Kapil’s Orange (South Coast Rep), Aaron Posner’s Stupid Fucking Bird (ACT Theatre Seattle). Kubzansky has received numerous awards and honors, among them the Los Angeles’ Drama Critics’ Circle’s Margaret Harford Award for Sustained Excellence in Theatre.
Margaret Shigeko Starbuck (Co-Director) is an L.A.-based director and the Associate Artistic Director of Boston Court Pasadena Performing Arts Center. Directing credits include Measure for Measure, Richard II, and the world premiere Frankel & Bloom musical We Three Sisters with Method and Madness Theatre Company; Good As New by Matt Curtin with Reprise Performance Troupe; Dark Horse by Lindsay Partain with INKfest; and readings with Skypilot Theatre Company, Occidental College, and Actors Circle Ensemble. Margaret has also been fortunate to assistant direct on productions at Pasadena Playhouse, Boston Court Pasadena, A Noise Within, the Getty Villa, and the Geffen Playhouse. She finds Gordon’s story incredibly inspiring and is so happy to be co-directing this reading of Jeanne’s beautiful play.
Jeanne Sakata‘s solo play Hold These Truths (2013 Drama Desk Nomination, Outstanding Solo Performance; 2019 San Diego Critics’ Circle Award, Outstanding Solo Performance; 2019 Theatre Bay Awards, Outstanding Production, Principal Performance and Direction) has won accolades in over twenty productions, most recently at San Francisco Playhouse, Capital Stage, and San Diego Rep, with extended runs at Barrington Stage, Arena Stage and TheatreWorks Silicon Valley. Winning raves from The New Yorker, New York Times, and other AP critics, it has also been produced at the Guthrie Theater, Pasadena Playhouse, Portland Center Stage, ACT Seattle, PlayMakers Rep, Perseverance Theatre, Honolulu Theatre for Youth (Daniel Dae Kim, co-producer), Terra Nova Collective, Silk Road Rising, Coachella Valley Rep, New Century Theatre, Plays and Players. Premiering with the East West Players in Los Angeles, and then Off-Broadway with the Epic Theatre Ensemble, the play was originally commissioned by Chay Yew, former director of CTG’s Asian Theatre Workshop, and further developed with the Lark Play Development Center and the New York Theatre Workshop. It is also available as an audio play, produced by L.A. Theatre Works, as is Jeanne’s latest 2021 work, For Us All, commissioned by L.A. Theatre Works and inspired by the 1980’s coram nobis legal battle of Fred Korematsu.
Special honors: Theatre LA Ovation Award for Outstanding Lead Actress, Chay Yew’s Red, East West Players; 2019 Trailblazer Award for Outstanding Artistic Achievement, East West Players; 2016 Lee Melville Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Los Angeles Theatre Community, Playwrights’ Arena; 2011 Outstanding Artist Award, Los Angeles’ Pacific American Friends of Theatre. www.jeannesakata.com, www.holdthesetruths.info
San Francisco Playhouse and HOLD THESE TRUTHS’ Star Jomar Tagatac Receive 2020-2021 Certificates of Commendation from San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle
Broadwayworld: Photos: San Francisco Playhouse Celebrates Closing Night Of Jeanne Sakata’s HOLD THESE TRUTHS
People’s Light to Remount Jeanne Sakata’s HOLD THESE TRUTHS Starring Lucille Lortel Nominated Actor Steven Eng, April 6-May 1, 2022
Virginia Stage Company Presents Jeanne Sakata’s HOLD THESE TRUTHS Starring Greg Watanabe, Oct. 19- Nov. 7
Photos: Closing Night of San Francisco Playhouse’s Production of Jeanne Sakata’s HOLD THESE TRUTHS
First Look: Method Productions Presents Jeanne Sakata’s HOLD THESE TRUTHS Starring Hansel Tan at HCAC Skylight studio in Singapore
Final weekend to see “Man in The High Castle” Star Joel de la Fuente in Benefit Performances of Jeanne Sakata’s HOLD THESE TRUTHS at Cultch Historic Theatre in Vancouver through November 2
Ryun Yu Stars in San Diego REP’s Production of Jeanne Sakata’s HOLD THESE TRUTHS, November 14 – December 8
Jeanne Sakata, Joel de la Fuente and More Celebrate Opening Night of HOLD THESE TRUTHS at Barrington Stage
Lia Chang loves to tell stories – as an actor, a multi-media content producer, a performing arts photographer and an award-winning filmmaker. A co-founder of Bev’s Girl Films, Lia makes films that foster inclusion and diversity on both sides of the camera. Lia has appeared in the films Wolf, New Jack City, A Kiss Before Dying, King of New York, Big Trouble in Little China, and The Last Dragon. She stars in and is the Executive Producer for the indie films Hide and Seek (AA Film Lab’s 2015 72 Hour Shootout Best Actress Nomination), Rom-Com Gone Wrong, and When the World Was Young (2021 DisOrient Film Audience Choice Award for Best Short Narrative). Lia made her stage debut as Liat in a national tour of South Pacific with Barbara Eden and Robert Goulet, was featured as Joy in Signature Theatre’s revival of Sam Shepard’s Chicago and has worked extensively Off-Broadway. Photo archives: Lia Chang Theater Portfolio collection,1989-2011, housed in the AAPI collection in the Library of Congress’ Asian Reading Room; Lia Chang Photography Collection in The Billy Rose Theatre Division of the New York Public Library. Awards: 2000 OCA Chinese American Journalist Award, the 2001 AAJA National Award for New Media. Lia is an AAJA Executive Leadership Graduate (2000), a Western Knight Fellow at USC’s Annenberg College of Communications for Specialized Journalism on Entertainment Journalism in the Digital Age (2000), a National Press Photographers Association Visual Edge/Visual Journalism Fellow at the Poynter Institute for New Media (2001), a Scripps Howard New Media Fellow at the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism (2002), and a National Tropical Garden Environmental Journalism Fellow (2003). www.liachang.com, www.liachangphotography.com