SAN DIEGO — San Diego Rep presents “Hold These Truths,” directed by Jessica Kubzansky, the inspiring true story of Gordon Hirabayashi, from Nov. 14 to Dec. 8 at the Lyceum Space Theater, 79 Horton Plaza, San Diego.
Shocked by the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, and driven by fear and prejudice, America shipped its own citizens of Japanese ancestry off to internment camps for forced detention. “Hold These Truths” tells the inspiring true story of American hero Gordon Hirabayashi, a young man who defied President Roosevelt’s order to report to camp. Join Gordon on a 50-year quest to avenge an injustice to his community, restore his faith in the U.S. Constitution and reconcile America’s greatness with its shortcomings.
“Hold These Truths” has played to sold-out audiences all over the country and features a tour-de-force performance by stage and screen actor Ryun Yu, who plays Gordon and 37 other characters.
“The presidential order to put American citizens in forced detention in 1942 is a profound scar upon our country’s history,” says San Diego Rep Artistic Director Sam Woodhouse. “The passion for and commitment to justice that Gordon Hirabayashi brought to his quest to right this wrong makes him an American to be honored and treasured. His story is an extraordinary one.”
Although the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against Hirabayashi at the time, his case was reopened in the 1980s and a federal judge vacated his conviction. He was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama.
“Hold These Truths” is playwright Jeanne Sakata’s lone foray off stage and screen, having made a highly successful career as an actor. Her solo play has been widely produced across the nation, including sold-out performances with the Guthrie Theatre, Pasadena Playhouse, Portland Center Stage, and more.
In addition to critical and audience acclaim, “Hold These Truths” is also on display at the Library of Congress Playwrights Archive in the Asian American Pacific Islander Collection in Washington D.C., where the Jeanne Sakata Collection was established in July 2011.
Called a “local treasure” by The Los Angeles Times, Sakata’s screen credits include Jennifer Phang’s internationally acclaimed indie sci-fi film “Advantageous”; on TV, guest/recurring roles on “Big Hero 6,” “Dr. Ken,” Bravo’s “True Fiction,” “NCIS Angeles,” “NUMB3RS,” Tyler Perry’s “Meet the Browns,” “Desperate Housewives,” “Presidio Med,” “ER,” “Threat Matrix,” “Line of Fire,” “American Family,” John Ridley’s “I Got You,” “Hiroshima” and “Sex and Marriage,” a Justin Lin YOMYOMF YouTube webseries.
Onstage, Sakata has performed with the Public Theater, Lincoln Center Theater, Kennedy Center, Mark Taper Forum, South Coast Rep, La Jolla Playhouse, American Conservatory Theater, Berkeley Rep, Intiman Theatre, A Contemporary Theatre, Portland Center Stage, People’s Light, Syracuse Stage and the Arizona Theatre Company.
Yu was the first Korean American to train at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London, and holds the first theatre degree ever awarded by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He has worked closely with award-winning playwright David Henry Hwang, having appeared in film adaptations of Hwang’s plays “Bondage” and “Yellow Face.”
Other film credits include “The Last Tour” (which he also directed), “Only the Brave,” “The Brothers Solomon” and “The Mikado Project.” On stage, he played George in the Los Angeles premiere of Julia Cho’s “The Language Archive” and David in the world premiere of Lloyd Suh’s “American Hwangap” at the Magic Theatre in San Francisco. He also performed in the West Coast premiere of Richard Greenberg’s Tony Award winning “Take Me Out” at the Geffen Playhouse.
Yu originated the role of Hirabayashi when “Hold These Truths,” originally titled “Dawn’s Light,” was first produced at East West Players in 2007.
San Diego Rep’s production of “Hold These Truths” is supported in part by a grant as part of the California Civil Liberties Public Education program at the California State Library. The grant, one of 30 awarded in 2019, will provide free tickets to students through San Diego Rep’s Project Discovery program, facilitate 11 audience and community engagement events and support the creation of a comprehensive guide for audiences to explore the historical context and themes of the play.
Created in 1998, the California Civil Liberties Public Education Program’s purpose is to “sponsor public educational activities and development of educational materials to ensure that the events surrounding the exclusion, forced removal and internment of civilians and permanent resident aliens of Japanese ancestry will be remembered so that the causes and circumstance of this and similar events may be illuminated and understood.”
The creative team features the award-winning Ben Zamora (scenic and lighting design), John Zalewski (sound design), Alyssa Escalante (stage manager), Chelsea Smith (production manager) and Kim Heil (casting director).
Tickets range from $25 to $72 and are available for purchase in-person at the San Diego Rep Box Office, by calling (619) 544-1000 or online at www.sdrep.org. Discounts for students, teachers, seniors, active-duty military and groups are available.
Previews: Thursday-Saturday, Nov. 14-16, at 8 p.m.; Sunday, Nov. 17, and Tuesday, Nov. 19, at 7 p.m.
Opening Night: Wednesday, Nov. 20, at 7 p.m.
Regular performances: Wednesdays at 7 p.m.; Thursdays at 8 p.m. (no show on Nov. 28); Fridays at 8 p.m.; Saturdays at 2 and 8 p.m. (evening show only on Nov. 23); Sundays at 2 p.m. (plus 7 p.m. show on Nov. 24);
Parking is available in the Horton Plaza parking garage for $8 with validation. Enter the garage from Fourth Avenue just south of the Balboa Theatre. Follow entrance lanes, then turn right and continue to the third level to park. Horton Plaza parking tickets (issued from machines at entry) may be validated in the Lyceum Theatres lobby during your show. Validation will allow patrons to pay a flat $8 rate.