Backstage Pass with Lia Chang

Jeanne Sakata’s Hold These Truths, Starring Joel de la Fuente, Plays Honolulu Theatre for Youth’s Tenney Theatre, February 21 – March 2, 2013

Acclaimed Off Broadway drama HOLD THESE TRUTHS, Jeanne Sakata’s one-man show inspired by the true story of second generation Japanese-American Gordon Hirabayashi, travels to Hawaii for a limited engagement of six performances at Honolulu Theatre for Youth’s Tenney Theatre, February 21 – March 2, 2013.

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


Directed by Lisa Rothe and starring actor Joel de la Fuente (the principal talent behind the original Epic Theatre Ensemble New York production in October 2012), the show is presented by producer/actor Daniel Dae Kim and Honolulu Theatre for Youth (HTY). The production is dedicated to the memory of the late Senator Daniel K. Inouye, an American hero who was directly involved by the themes of the play. Proceeds will support the non-profit theatre and drama education programs of HTY.

OPENING NIGHT Thursday, Feb. 21 at 7:30 p.m. The show continues Friday February 22 at 8:00 p.m.; Saturday, February 23 at 8:00 p.m.; Sunday February 24 at 3:00 p.m.; Thursday February 28 at 7:30 p.m.; and CLOSES on Saturday, March 2 at 8:00 p.m.

General admission is $20 for adults; $15 for students/seniors; limited premium seating available for $30. Tickets may be ordered online at www.htyweb.org or by calling HTY at (808) 839-9885.

HOLD THESE TRUTHS is set in Seattle during World War II, where Hirabayashi, a University of Washington student, 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 Hirabayashi (1918-2012), the nation’s highest civilian honor, in April 2012.

Joel de la Fuente, Jeanne Sakata and Daniel Dae Kim. Photo by Lia Chang

Joel de la Fuente, Jeanne Sakata and Daniel Dae Kim. Photo by Lia Chang


Daniel Dae Kim said, “I was deeply moved by HOLD THESE TRUTHS when I saw it in New York. Having lived in Hawaii for almost nine years now, I recognized how inspiring Gordon Hirabayashi’s story would be to our community. Given the islands’ unique connection to World War II through the 442nd Infantry and 100th Combat Battalion, bringing this production seemed to be a natural fit. It’s a beautifully written, expertly acted and directed piece that ultimately reaffirms what it means to be American. I’m honored to have the opportunity, with HTY, to bring it to Hawaii.”

Kim and de la Fuente have been close friends since their days together in the Graduate Acting Program at NYU. Kim said, “Not only is he a very dear friend, but a superb actor who’s deserving of all the success he’s enjoyed with HOLD THESE TRUTHS. Watching an artist of his caliber perform live is a great opportunity for people of Hawaii to see a world class performance.”

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


Reviewing the NY production, Japan Culture NYC said, “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.”

Gordon Kiyoshi Hirabayashi (1918-2012) was an American sociologist best known for his resistance to the Japanese-American internment during World War II. He was one of the only three to openly defy it. After being convicted for curfew violation he was sentenced to 90 days in prison. The verdict was appealed all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court in the case Hirabayashi v. United States (1943). They unanimously ruled against him. He later spent a year in federal prison for refusing induction into the armed forces after they had sent out a racially discriminatory survey to Japanese-Americans demanding renunciation of allegiance to the emperor of Japan. In 1987, the U.S. Court of Appeals Ninth Circuit overturned his conviction from 1943. In 2012, President Barack Obama posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Hirabayashi for his principled stand against Japanese-American internment.

Joel de la Fuente (Photo by Lia Chang)

Joel de la Fuente (Photo by Lia Chang)


Joel de la Fuente’s (Gordon Hirabayashi) NY theatre credits include: Ivanov in Ivanov; The Downtown Plays; Claudio in Beatrice and Benedict, with the NY Philharmonic; The Square; America Dreaming and Valentine in The Two Gentlemen of Verona. In 2005, Joel served as the Artistic Associate of the National Asian American Theater Company and also appeared in their world premiere of Cowboy v. Samurai, among others. Other theatrical credits include Vershinin in The Three Sisters; Ariel in The Tempest; Florizel in The Winter’s Tale; Chay Yew’s Red and Liu Mengmei in The Peony Pavilion. On television, Joel has spent ten seasons in “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.” He was a series regular on the Fox drama, “Space: Above & Beyond;” and is recurring in the upcoming series “Hemlock Grove,” exclusively available on Netflix. On screen, he stars in Brief Reunion (Audience Choice Award Winner) and in the upcoming film, Forgetting The Girl. Additional film credits include: Personal Velocity; The Adjustment Bureau; The Happening; Heights; Return to Paradise and From Other Worlds. Joel’s essay on his experiences as an Asian American actor is published in Pyong Gap Min’s “Struggle for Ethnic Identity.”
Lisa Rothe

Lisa Rothe


Lisa Rothe (Director). Recent Credits: Penelope (Playmakers Repertory Theatre); Ada (Center for Contemporary Opera). Directed and/or developed in NY: 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: Synchronicity Theatre, Chautauqua Theatre, Vermont Stage Company, Indiana Repertory Theatre, Milwaukee Shakespeare Theatre, The New Harmony Project, Riverside Theatre, Seaside Shakespeare (Nantucket), among others. Director of Offsite Programs and Partnerships at the Lark Play Development Center.
Jeanne Sakata (Photo by Lia Chang)

Jeanne Sakata (Photo by Lia Chang)


Jeanne Sakata’s HOLD THESE TRUTHS has its world premiere in 2007 at East West Players under the title of DAWN’S LIGHT: THE JOURNEY OF GORDON HIRABAYASHI, co-presented by the Japanese American National Museum, UCLA Department of Asian American Studies, and the UCLA Asian American Studies Center, and was subsequently chosen by the Epic Theatre Ensemble and the Lark Play Development Center for their first joint presentation, as well as by the New York Theatre Workshop to be showcased at their 2009 Dartmouth Residency. In its New York premiere with the Epic in October 2012, HOLD THESE TRUTHS opened to unanimous rave reviews from The New Yorker, The Washington Post/API, and many other critics. It has also been performed at Chicago’s Pritzker Pavilion with Silk Road Rising/Millennium Park as part of the Park’s 2011 IN THE WORKS New Plays Series; the Epic’s 2010 Passion Play Festival with the John Jay College of Criminal Justice; the University of California at Riverside; the 16th Annual Conference of the Japan Studies Association in Honolulu; at Japanese American Citizens League Day of Remembrance events in Sacramento and Salinas, California; and the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, where it served as the inspiration and theatrical centerpiece of the civil rights symposium “Civil Liberties, National Security and the Legacies of the Japanese Removal and Incarceration.” With the East West Players Theatre For Youth program in 2008 and 2010, the play has twice toured high schools and junior high schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District. HOLD THESE TRUTHS is now part of the Library of Congress Playwrights Archive in the Asian American Pacific Islander Collection in Washington DC, where Sakata’s working script was recently on view in the Thomas Jefferson Building in conjunction with the Library of Congress celebration of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. (www.facebook.com/holdthesetruths, www.holdthesetruths.info)

Jeanne is also a renowned actress whose many accolades include an LA Ovation Award for Best Lead Actress for Chay Yew’s RED at East West Players in Los Angeles. In the 2011-2012 season she performed in A CAGE OF FIREFLIES at the 2012 Sundance Institute Theatre Lab, in the title role of George Bernard Shaw’s MRS. WARREN’S PROFESSION at the Antaeus Company’s Classics Fest, SEVEN at USC, THE LANGUAGE ARCHIVE at East West Players, and RED FLAMBOYANT at Ojai Playwrights Festival. Regionally, she has performed with The Public Theater, Lincoln Center Theater, Kennedy Center, Mark Taper Forum, La Jolla Playhouse, South Coast Rep, American Conservatory Theater, Northlight Theatre, Intiman Theatre, Berkeley Rep, A Contemporary Theatre, Portland Center Stage, Syracuse Stage and the Arizona Theatre Company. Screen credits include playing Mom Wanda to Olivia Munn in the recent feature film comedy THE BABYMAKERS, NCIS LOS ANGELES, TYLER PERRY’S MEET THE BROWNS, DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES, ER, THREAT MATRIX, LINE OF FIRE, PRESIDIO MED, AMERICAN FAMILY, NUMB3RS, John Ridley’s I GOT YOU, the MOW’s THE READING ROOM, HIROSHIMA, CONSENSUAL RELATIONS, and the feature films XXX2: STATE OF THE UNION and AMERICAN FUSION.

In December 2011, Jeanne was honored with an Outstanding Artist Award for her career achievements by Los Angeles’ Asian Pacific American Friends of the Theatre. (www.jeannesakata.com)

Honolulu Theatre for Youth is Hawaii’s non-profit professional theatre company providing theatre and drama education programs that make a difference in the lives of Hawaii’s young people and families. Founded in 1955, HTY is recognized the world over as one of America’s most honored theatres.

Below are interviews with Hold These Truths‘ playwright Jeanne Sakata, star Joel de la Fuente and director Lisa Rothe.

Hold These Truths‘ playwright Jeanne Sakata talks about her inspiration to write Gordon Hirabayashi’s life story, how she did her research, why she chose the solo show format and what she hopes audiences will take away from de la Fuente’s performance.

Hold These Truths‘ star Joel de la Fuente talks about the challenges of playing 30+ characters and the impact playing Gordon Hirabayashi has had for him.

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.

Other Hold These Truths Articles:
Brief Reunion Starring Joel de la Fuente, Alexie Gilmore and Scott Shepherd, Opens in NY & L.A. on January 18, 2013
Hold These Truths Video Feature: Playwright Jeanne Sakata, Star Joel de la Fuente and Director Lisa Rothe
Video: Interview with Lisa Rothe, Director of Critically Acclaimed Hold These Truths by Jeanne Sakata, starring Joel de la Fuente
Video: Q & A with Jeanne Sakata, Award Winning Actress Makes Playwrighting Debut Telling Story of Gordon Hirabayashi with Hold These Truths
Photos and Video: Daniel Dae Kim, Ann Harada, Greg Watanabe and More at Jeanne Sakata’s Hold These Truths starring Joel de la Fuente
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
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

Other articles by Lia Chang:
Ron Domingo, Francis Jue and Jon Norman Schneider Join the Cast of the World Premiere of Paper Dolls at the Tricycle Theatre, February 28 – April 13, 2013
Kumu Kahua Theatre Presents World Premiere of Daniel Akiyama’s A Cage of Fireflies, January 24-February 24, 2013
Ruy Iskandar and Yuekun Wu Set for Signature Theatre’s Production of David Henry Hwang’s The Dance and The Railroad, February 5 – March 17, 2013
Michelle Krusiec and Alex Moggridge Star in David Henry Hwang’s Chinglish at South Coast Repertory, January 25 – February 24, 2013
Historic Gathering of Civil Rights Heroes at Fred Korematsu Day Heroes Celebration in San Francisco on January 27, 2013
Photos: Partying with the Cast of David Henry Hwang’s Golden Child
Harlem Nights with Lorey Hayes, Actress, Director and Award-Winning Playwright of Power Play and Massinissa
Performing Arts Images from the Asian American Pacific Islander Collection on Display at the Library of Congress to Celebrate APA Heritage Month
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.

Lia Chang

Lia Chang


Lia Chang is an actor, a performance and fine art botanical photographer, and an award-winning multi-platform journalist.

All text, graphics, articles & photographs: © 2000-2013 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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