Backstage Pass with Lia Chang

Lia Chang Video: Interview with Lisa Rothe, Director of Critically Acclaimed Hold These Truths by Jeanne Sakata, starring Joel de la Fuente

There are only four more chances to see Joel de la Fuente in The Epic Theatre Ensemble’s New York premiere of Jeanne Sakata’s solo play Hold These Truths (formerly known as Dawn’s Light: The Journey of Gordon Hirabayashi), directed by Lisa Rothe, which has been extended through November 25, 2012.

Joel de la Fuente as Gordon Hirabayashi in Jeanne Sakata's Hold These Truths. Photo by Lia Chang

Joel de la Fuente as Gordon Hirabayashi in Jeanne Sakata’s Hold These Truths. Photo by Lia Chang

As Gordon Hirabayashi, de la Fuente is a revelation in his nuanced tour-de-force portrayal of Gordon, seamlessly transforming into 30+ other characters throughout the course of the play.

Playwright Jeanne Sakata was inspired by a true story to write Hold These Truths, which is set in Seattle during World War II, where University of Washington student Gordon Hirabayashi is agonizing over U.S. government orders to forcibly remove and mass incarcerate all people of Japanese ancestry on the West Coast. As he fights to reconcile his country’s betrayal with his passionate belief in the U.S. Constitution, Hirabayashi journeys toward a greater understanding of America’s triumphs — and a confrontation with its failures. President Obama posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Gordon Hirabayashi (1918-2012), the nation’s highest civilian honor, in April 2012.

In the interview below, director Lisa Rothe discusses how she first became involved with Hold These Truths, her history with Joel de la Fuente, how attending a Quaker meeting influenced her design and concept of the set, her prior knowledge of Gordon Hirabayashi, and her exposure to the internment camps.

Check out the Rave Reviews below.
THE NEW YORKER
“One of the stunning things about Joel de la Fuente’s performance in Jeanne Sakata’s gripping one-man show is how completely he embodies the real-life character of Gordon Hirabayashi….de la Fuente, under the direction of Lisa Rothe, also plays many other characters—Hirabayashi’s parents, his college friends, police, lawyers, judges, a Hopi Indian—but his portrayal of Hirabayashi, whom President Obama just this year posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, feels eerily true to life.”
Full Review

Jeanne Sakata, Joel de la Fuente, Lisa Rothe and Robert Chelimsky. Photo by Lia Chang

Jeanne Sakata, Joel de la Fuente, Lisa Rothe and Robert Chelimsky. Photo by Lia Chang

HUFFINGTON POST
“Jeanne Sakata’s eloquent one-man drama about civil rights giant Gordon Hirabayashi…. provides a concise examination of a fascinating chapter in American history…Joel de la Fuente plays Hirabayashi with buoyant, magnetic enthusiasm, under the direction of Lisa Rothe.”
Full Review

Daniel Dae Kim, Jeanne Sakata, Joel de la Fuente, Lisa Rothe, Ann Harada, Sung Rno after a performance of Jeanne Sakata's Hold These Truths at The Theatre at the 14th Street Y in New York on November 12, 2012. Photo by Lia Chang

Daniel Dae Kim, Jeanne Sakata, Joel de la Fuente, Lisa Rothe, Ann Harada, Sung Rno after a performance of Jeanne Sakata’s Hold These Truths at The Theatre at the 14th Street Y in New York on November 12, 2012. Photo by Lia Chang

TIMES SQUARE CHRONICLES
“A fabulous Joel de la Fuente….Ms. Sakata is a wonderful playwright who conveys emotions and words with a poetry that is full of humor and knowledge.”
Full Review

JAPAN CULTURE NYC
Hold These Truths is lighthearted, witty, and laugh-out-loud funny…. Joel de la Fuente does a tremendous job as Gordon, endearing himself to the audience with Gordon’s exuberance ….Both Sakata and de la Fuente emphasize the no-nonsense firmness within Gordon, whose deeply patriotic spirit and uncompromising faith allowed him to take on the US government as an American citizen.”
Full Review

TECHNORATI.COM
“…A shining play beautifully written by Jeanne Sakata…. resonates with vitality and power…de la Fuente’s stirring, layered portrayal of Hirabayashi, and his spot-on ironic and humorous portrayals of Hirabayashi’s parents, friends and people he meets along his journey, propel us toward a mixture of emotions, reminding us that this could happen again if we are not careful. Lisa Rothe’s excellent directing choices and Sakata’s emotionally uplifting rendering of this heroic soul adhere flawlessly. This is what living, breathing theater is about. Unforgettable.”
Full Review

URBAN EXCAVATIONS
“It takes a deft dramatic hand to craft moving theatre out of social history and courtroom drama, and a nuanced actor to portray the passage of time and multiple characters. The Epic Theatre production of Jeanne Sakata‘s Hold These Truths reveals just such deftness of hand and actor nuance. Moving, instructive, thrilling….Travel downtown to be inspired by script, actor, and history in equal measure….Culled to its human and emotional essence, we hold Hirabayashi’s story as we must all ‘hold these truths.’”
Full Review

Hold These Truths has been extended, and the remaining performance schedule is Friday, November 23 @ 7pm, Saturday, November 24 @ 3pm & 7pm, Sun, November 25, @ 7pm. Tickets are $40 and are available by visiting www.epictheatreensemble.org. or by calling 866-811-4111.

Theater at the 14th Street Y
344 E. 14th Street
New York, NY 10003
Steps away from the 1st Avenue Station on the L, L train to 1st Avenue

Lisa Rothe

Lisa Rothe

Most recently, Lisa Rothe directed Penelope by Ellen McLaughlin & Sarah Kirkland Snider at Playmakers Repertory Company and is currently developing a new opera about Ada Byron (Ada) by composer Kim Sherman and librettist Margaret Vandenburg, which was presented this spring as a part of the Center for Contemporary Opera’s Development Series. She has workshopped, developed and directed over one hundred new plays and musicals, working with award winning writers such as James Still, Karen Hartman, Anna Ziegler and Pulitzer nominated and Grammy winner, Rinde Eckert. In NY, Lisa has directed and/or developed work with The Foundry, New Georges, Epic Theatre Ensemble, Lark Play Development Center, Ensemble Studio Theatre (EST) , 52nd Street Project, Naked Angels, New York Theatre Workshop, The Public Theater, BAM, Summer Play Festival (SPF), NYMF, Midtown International Theatre Festival (Best Director), The Women’s Project, National Actors Theater, Keen Company (Keen Teens), Orchard Project, Voice & Vision, HERE, Dixon Place. Regionally, she has worked with Synchronicity Theatre, Chautauqua Theatre, Vermont Stage Company, Indiana Repertory Theatre, Milwaukee Shakespeare Theatre, The New Harmony Project, Riverside Theatre, Seaside Shakespeare (Nantucket), among others. Lisa is also the director of Offsite Programs and Partnerships at the Lark Play Development Center where she deals with providing expanded opportunities for playwrights, aimed at advancing new work to production nationally and globally. She has also spent time in Ethiopia, creating theatre with the children of the World Wide Orphans Foundation (WWO). She has taught and directed at many theatre programs around the country including NYU’s Graduate Acting Program, Yale School of Drama, The Juilliard School, Chautauqua Conservatory and many others. Lisa is a graduate of NYU’s Graduate Acting Program and Director’s Lab, as well as a Drama League alum, Fox Fellow, member of the Women’s Project Director’s Lab and is on the boards of the League of Professional Theatre Women and the Theatre World Awards.

Lisa Rothe, Jeanne Sakata, Joel de la Fuente and Lia Chang after the opening night performance of Hold These Truths at the Theatre at the 14th Street Y in New York on October 21, 2012. Photo by Tim Patterson

Lisa Rothe, Jeanne Sakata, Joel de la Fuente and Lia Chang after the opening night performance of Hold These Truths at the Theatre at the 14th Street Y in New York on October 21, 2012. Photo by Tim Patterson

Lia Chang is an actor, a performance and fine art botanical photographer, and an award-winning multi-platform journalist. She recently appeared in Lorey Hayes’ POWER PLAY.

Other Articles by Lia Chang:
Photos: Opening Night with Hold These Truths’ Playwright Jeanne Sakata and Star Joel de la Fuente, a Revelation as Gordon Hirabayashi; Performances Extended through November 25, 2012
Epic Theatre Ensemble Presents New York Premiere of Jeanne Sakata’s Hold These Truths Starring Joel de la Fuente at the Theatre at the 14th Street Y, October 12-November 18, 2012
Remembering Civil Rights Leader Gordon Hirabayashi,1918- 2012
President Obama Names Asian American Civil Rights Hero Gordon Hirabayashi Recipient of Presidential Medal of Freedom
Signature Theatre’s Production of Golden Child by David Henry Hwang has been extended through December 16, 2012
Harlem Nights with Lorey Hayes, Actress, Director and Award-Winning Playwright of Power Play and Massinissa
Playing Lady Thiang in the Harbor Lights’ Production of The King and I is a dream come true for Christine Toy Johnson
Photos: Q & A with Mel Sagrado Maghuyop, The King in Harbor Lights’ Production of The King and I
Performing Arts Images from the Asian American Pacific Islander Collection on Display at the Library of Congress to Celebrate APA Heritage Month
Reading of Jeanne Sakata’s Dawn’s Light: The Journey of Gordon Hirabayashi Starring Joel de la Fuente in New York
Thom Sesma Stars in Jeanne Sakata’s Dawn’s Light: The Journey of Gordon Hirabayashi
Video: Academy Award Winner Chris Tashima Talks About His Roles in Lily Mariye’s Model Minority and Lil Tokyo Reporter
10 minutes with Sullivan & Son’s Jodi Long, Award Winning Actor and Filmmaker
Photos: Yellow Fever Playwright Rick Shiomi Explores New Territory with An All-Female Cast
Click here for the Lia Chang Articles Archive and here for the Lia Chang Photography Website.

All text, graphics, articles & photographs: © 2000-2012 Lia Chang Multimedia. All rights reserved. All materials contained on this site are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of Lia Chang. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content. For permission, please contact Lia at liachangpr@gmail.com

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