Backstage Pass with Lia Chang

Ryun Yu stars as Gordon Hirabayashi in Jeanne Sakata’s HOLD THESE TRUTHS at ACT, July 17 – August 16

Ryun Yu as Gordon Hirabayashi Photo: Michael Lamont

Ryun Yu as Gordon Hirabayashi
Photo: Michael Lamont

Ryun Yu stars as local civil rights hero Gordon Hirabayashi in Jeanne Sakata’s solo show Hold These Truths, directed by Jessica Kubzansky, at The Falls Theatre at ACT Theatre, 700 Union Street, Seattle, WA,  July 17th – August 16th. The press opening is Thursday, July 23, 2015.

Ryun Yu as Gordon Hirabayashi Photo: Michael Lamont

Ryun Yu as Gordon Hirabayashi
Photo: Michael Lamont

Inspired by the true story of University of Washington student Gordon Hirabayashi, Hold These Truths follows Gordon during the U.S. Government’s decision to forcibly remove and incarcerate people of Japanese ancestry during World War II.

Ryun Yu as Gordon Hirabayashi Photo: Michael Lamont

Ryun Yu as Gordon Hirabayashi
Photo: Michael Lamont

Hirabayashi openly defied the relocation and internment and refused to report for evacuation to an internment camp, instead turning himself in to the FBI to assert his belief that these practices were racially discriminatory. Consequently, he was convicted by a U.S. Federal District Court in Seattle of defying the exclusion order and violating curfew. Hirabayashi appealed his conviction all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled against him in 1943. Following World War II and his imprisonment, Hirabayashi obtained a doctoral degree in sociology and became a professor. In 1987, his conviction was overturned by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

Hold These Truths tells the Hirabayashi’s story as he fights to reconcile his country’s betrayal and to maintain his passionate belief in the U.S. Constitution. In Hold These Truths we witness Hirabayashi as he journeys toward a greater understanding of America’s triumphs – and a confrontation with its failures.

Hold These Truths came to Seattle via the ACTLab last summer and immediately captivated audiences, impressed critics and sold out performances. This year the show makes the jump to ACT’s mainstage season with dozens of performances in the Fall Theatre.

“Jeanne Sakata’s eloquent one-man drama about civil rights giant Gordon Hirabayashi provides a concise examination of a fascinating chapter in American history.” The Washington Post/API

The creative team includes Ben Zamora (Scenic and Lighting Designer),  Brendan Patrick Hogan (Sound Designer), John Zalewski (Original Sound Designer), stage manager Michael B. Paul and Production Assistant Victoria Thompson.

Hold These Truths Performances:
Friday, July 17, 8:00pm (previews begin)
Saturday, July 18, 8:00pm
Sunday, July 19, 7:30pm
Tuesday, July 21, 7:30pm (Behind the Scenes, 6:00pm) Wednesday, July 22, 7:30pm
Thursday, July 23, 7:30pm – OPENING NIGHT
Friday, July 24, 8:00pm
Saturday, July 25, 2:00pm
Saturday, July 25, 8:00pm
Wednesday, July 29, 7:30pm
Thursday, July 30, 2:00pm
Friday, July 31, 8:00pm
Saturday, August 1, 8:00pm
Sunday, August 2, 2:00pm
Sunday, August 2, 7:00pm
Tuesday, August 4, 7:30pm – POST PLAY DISCUSSION Wednesday, August 5, 7:30pm
Thursday, August 6, 7:30pm
Friday, August 7, 8:00pm
Saturday, August 8, 2:00pm – AUDIO DESCRIBED Saturday August 8, 8:00pm
Sunday, August 9, 2:00pm – POST PLAY DISCUSSION Sunday, August 9, 7:00pm
Tuesday, August 11, 7:30pm
Wednesday, August 12, 7:30pm
Thursday, August 13, 7:30pm
Friday August 14, 8:00pm
Saturday, August 15, 2:00pm
Saturday, August 15, 8:00pm
Sunday, August 16, 2:00pm – POST PLAY DISCUSSION Sunday, August 16, 7:00pm

Tickets start at: Adults: $44; Students: $15; Age 25 & Under: $20; Seniors: $33

Available to ACTPass members. Now on sale: 206.292.7676 or

Additional Events

  • Tastings – July 31
  • Post-Play Discussions – August 4, 9, 16
    Panels will include on varying nights: Lorraine Bannai, director of the Fred T. Korematsu Center for Law and Equality; Michael Leong and Daniel Ichinaga, both members of Gordon’s legal team for the case in the 80s; and Tetsuden Kashima, Professor of Sociology in the Department of American Ethnic Studies at UW

• Audio Described – August 8

Hold These Truths sponsored in part by Nesholm Family Foundation.

About ACT Theatre

ACT is the only local theatre dedicated to producing contemporary work with promising playwrights and local performing artists since 1965. ACT is a cultural engine that makes plays, dance, music, and film that touch us through its annual Mainstage Play series and new works generated from the Young Playwrights Program, ACTLab, and New Works for the American Stage commissioning program. Because contemporary life demands examination, ACT is driven to inspire and strengthen our diverse community through works that advance our understanding of human life. ACT is an interactive community where artists and the public witness, contemplate and engage in dialogue on today’s thought-provoking issues, ideas, and art, presented with intelligence, insight, and humor. Dedicated to the advancement and preservation of today’s contemporary work for future generations, ACT is a destination for contemporary theatre and arts in downtown Seattle.

Seasons Sponsors: 4Culture, ArtsFund, Boeing, The John Graham Foundation, Office of Arts & Culture, The Norcliffe Foundation, The Shubert Foundation.

Ryun Yu

Ryun Yu

Ryun Yu is the first Korean-American to train at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London. He also has the first theatre degree ever awarded by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He just finished playing Mark in the film adaptation of David Henry Hwang’s Bondage. This is Yu’s second film collaboration with Hwang—he played a fictional version of the writer in Yellow Face, which was the first adaptation of a major play for YouTube. His other film credits include the upcoming The Last Tour, which he is also directing, Only the Brave, The Brothers Solomon and The Mikado Project. His television appearances include “The Whole Truth,” “Bones,” “Good Luck Charlie” and “The Unit.” 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. In Los Angeles theatre, he has played Ivan in Art at East West Players, Gene in Sea Change at the Gay and Lesbian Center (Maddy Award, Ovation Award nomination), and all of the characters in Hold These Truths (formerly Dawn’s Light: The Journey of Gordon Hirabayashi) at East West Players. He also performed in the West Coast premiere of Richard Greenberg’s Tony Award-winning Take Me Out at the Geffen Playhouse and in Kimber Lee’s  tokyo fish story at South Coast Rep. Yu is on twitter @realryunyu.

Jeanne Sakata. Photo by Lia Chang

Jeanne Sakata. Photo by Lia Chang

Jeanne Sakata’s (Playwright) Hold These Truths (formerly Dawn’s Light: The Journey of Gordon Hirabayashi), had its world premiere in 2007 at Los Angeles’ East West Players, co-presented by the UCLA Department of Asian American Studies, the UCLA Asian American Studies Center, and the Japanese American National Museum. In its 2012 New York premiere at the Epic Theatre Ensemble, Hold These Truths opened to unanimous rave reviews from The New Yorker, The Washington Post/API, and many other theatre critics, resulting in a Drama Desk Nomination for Outstanding Solo Performance, and a subsequent Hawaiian premiere, co-presented by Daniel Dae Kim and the Honolulu Theatre For Youth. Developed by the Lark Play Development Center and the New York Theatre Workshop, it has also been performed at Chicago’s Pritzker Pavilion with Silk Road Rising/Millennium Park, the University of California at Riverside 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 Jeanne Sakata Collection in the Library of Congress Playwrights Archive, Asian American Pacific Islander Collection, Washington DC. (,

Sakata is also a renowned actress whose acclaimed “cross-gender” portrayal of Master Hua in Chay Yew’s RED at East West Players earned her the LA Ovation Award for Best Lead Actress. She has performed across the country at 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, and developed new works with The Sundance Institute Theatre Lab and the Ojai Playwrights Festival. Screen credits include “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 The Babymakers, XXX2: State of the Union and American Fusion.

Sakata has received the Los Angeles’ Pacific American Friends of Theatre Outstanding Artist Award, the Monaco Charity Film Festival Best Actress Award (Adultolescence), Stage Scene Outstanding Performance mention (Master Class), Entertainment Today Best Supporting Actress Award (A Winter People), and the Drama-Logue Outstanding Performance Award (The Maids)( (,

Jessica Kubzansky

Jessica Kubzansky

Jessica Kubzansky (Director) last directed Pygmalion and the West Coast Premiere of Theresa Rebeck’s Mauritius at The Pasadena Playhouse. She has been the Co-Artistic Director of The Theatre @ Boston Court in Pasadena since its inception. Her most recent productions there were the world premiere of Sheila Callaghan’s Everything You Touch, and RII, her own three-person adaptation of Shakespeare’s Richard II. She is also an award-winning director working nationally in a wide variety of venues such as Rattlestick Playwrights Theatre, the Cherry Lane, South Coast Rep, Pasadena Playhouse, The Geffen Playhouse, Portland Center Stage, Illinois Shakespeare Festival, Silk Road, The Aurora, The Publick, La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts, The Laguna Playhouse, Antaeus, ICT, The Colony, East/West Players, A Noise Within, Theater 150, 24th Street, EST-LA, Playwrights’ Arena, and more. She has also directed numerous productions, which have toured both nationally and internationally. Kubzansky does a great deal of new work development, and has had the privilege of developing work by an amazing group of playwrights, including Luis Alfaro, Bill Cain, Sheila Callaghan, Julia Cho, Jordan Harrison, Frances Ya-Chu Cowhig, Zayd Dohrn, Peter Sinn Nachtrieb, David Wiener, Ken Urban, Christina Anderson, Carlos Murillo, Laura Schellhardt, Jean-Claude van Itallie, Diana Son, Nick Salamone, and many other wonderful writers in many new play development settings, including Ojai Playwrights Conference, Portland Center Stage JAW Festival, South Coast Rep’s Pacific Playwrights Festival and NewSCRipts, the Playwrights Center of Minneapolis, the Taper Labs, and many others. Kubzansky has received numerous awards and honors, among them the Los Angeles’ Drama Critics’ Circle’s Margaret Harford Award for Sustained Excellence in Theatre. Proud member of SDC.

cropped-lia-chang_photo-by-carlos-flores-3.jpgLia Chang is an actor, a performance and fine art botanical photographer, and an award-winning multi-platform journalist. Lia has appeared in the films Wolf, New Jack City, A Kiss Before Dying, King of New York, Big Trouble in Little China, The Last Dragon and Taxman. She has guest starred on “One Life to Live,” “As the World Turns,” and “New York Undercover.” She is profiled in Jade Magazine.

Related articles:
Photos: Jennifer Phang, Jeanne Sakata, Freya Adams and More at Advantageous in NY
Photo: Stan Egi, Ellen Crawford, Paige Lindsey White, Bruce Turk, Greg Watanabe and More in Jessica Kubzansky helmed PYGMALION at The Pasadena Playhouse through April 12; PYGMALION Themed Activities
Production Photos: Kimber Lee’s tokyo fish story starring Sab Shimono, Ryun Yu, Lawrence Kao, Jully Lee and Eddie Mui at South Coast Repertory through March 29

Click here  for the Lia Chang Articles Archive and here for the Lia Chang Photography Website.
All text, graphics, articles & photographs: © 2000-2015 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

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