Backstage Pass with Lia Chang

Portland Center Stage at The Armory Debuts its Northwest Stories Series with Jeanne Sakata’s HOLD THESE TRUTHS Starring Ryun YU, Oct. 1-Nov. 13

Ryun Yu in Jeanne Sakata's HOLD THESE TRUTHS

Ryun Yu in Jeanne Sakata’s HOLD THESE TRUTHS

Portland Center Stage at The Armory debuts its new Northwest Stories series with Jeanne Sakata’s Hold These Truths, a play inspired by the life of civil rights hero Gordon Hirabayashi, a Seattle native who was posthumously awarded the 2012 Presidential Medal of Freedom. Hold These Truths opens in the Ellyn Bye Studio on October 7, with previews beginning October 1 and performances running through November 13.

Hold These Truths will be directed by Jessica Kubzansky, who directed the world premiere at East West Players in Los Angeles. Actor Ryun Yu, who originated the role of Hirabayashi at East West Players, will once again play the role in Portland.

During World War II, University of Washington student Gordon Hirabayashi fights the government’s orders to forcibly remove and mass incarcerate all people of Japanese ancestry on the West Coast. As he struggles 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.

Hold These Truths was first produced in 2007 by East West Players in Los Angeles under the title Dawn’s Light: The Journey of Gordon Hirabayashi. Since the critically acclaimed world premiere, director Jessica Kubzansky and actor Ryun Yu have partnered on several productions of Hold These Truths, most recently at Act Theatre in Seattle, where Seattle Weekly said the play, “Stunningly shines a light on a shameful chapter of Northwest (and national) history … At its heart, Hold These Truths is an excellent exploration of being a patriot precisely when it’s most unpopular.”

Regular tickets start at $25. Tickets may be purchased at, 503.445.3700, or in-person at the box office (128 NW Eleventh Avenue, Portland, OR). Students and patrons who are 30 or younger can purchase $30 tickets (available for all dates/times). Rush tickets are $20. Groups of 10+ save 25% off adult tickets. Recipients of Oregon Trail Card benefits can purchase $5 tickets. Showtimes are Tuesday through Sunday evenings at 7:30 p.m. (excluding October 16 and October 30, and November 1, 8 and 13);Saturday and Sunday matinees at 2 p.m. (excluding October 1, 2, 8, 22, and November 5); and Thursday matinees at noon (excluding October 6 and October 10). Recommended for ages 14+; contains mature language.

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 Hold These Truths was recently included by audience demand in Seattle’s ACT Theatre 2015 50th Anniversary Mainstage Season following four sold-out performances in the ACT Lab.  In 2016, in addition to its Portland Center Stage run, the play is also being produced at Perseverance Theatre and the Guthrie Theater. Premiering at LA’s East West Players in 2007 starring Ryun Yu and directed by Jessica Kubzansky, Hold These Truths had its off-Broadway debut with the Epic Theatre Ensemble in 2012 (Drama Desk Nomination for Outstanding Solo Performance) and has since been performed at PlayMakers Repertory, People’s Light & Theatre, Honolulu Theatre for Youth (co-produced with Daniel Dae Kim), Terra Nova Collective, Silk Road Rising/Millennium Park, and Coachella Valley Rep. Jeanne is also an acclaimed actor who has performed with the Public Theatre, Lincoln Center Theatre, Kennedy Center, the Mark Taper Forum, South Coast Rep, La Jolla Playhouse, the Intiman, Portland Center Stage, ACT Seattle, ACT San Francisco, Berkeley Rep, and People’s Light & Theatre.  Screen credits include the internationally acclaimed indie film Advantageous (US Dramatic Special Jury Award for Collaborative Vision, 2015 Sundance Film Festival) and guest appearances on BRAVO’S True Fiction, Dr. Ken, NCIS Los Angeles, Tyler Perry’s Meet the Browns, Desperate Housewives, Presidio Med, ER, Threat Matrix, Line of Fire, American Famil, John Ridley’s I Got You, and Sex and Marriage, a Justin Lin YOMYOMF YouTube webseries.  Special honors: LA Ovation Award, Outstanding Lead Actress, Red at EWP;  2016 Lee Melville Award, Outstanding Contribution to the Los Angeles Theatre Community, Playwrights’ Arena; Outstanding Artist Award, LA Asian Pacific American Friends of Theatre; establishment of the Jeanne Sakata Collection, Library of Congress Playwrights Archive, Asian American Pacific Islander Collection.,

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.

Lia Chang_photo by Garth Kravits

Lia Chang_photo by Garth Kravits

Lia Chang is an actor, a multi-media content producer and co-founder of Bev’s Girl Films, making films that foster inclusion and diversity on both sides of the camera. Bev’s Girl Films’ debut short film, Hide and Seek was a top ten film in the Asian American Film Lab’s 2015 72 Hour Shootout Filmmaking Competition, and she received a Best Actress nomination. BGF collaborates with and produces multi-media content for artists, actors, designers, theatrical productions, composers,  musicians and corporations. Lia is also an internationally published and exhibited photographer, a multi-platform journalist, and a publicist. 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, Taxman and Hide and Seek. She is profiled in Examiner.comJade Magazine and

Click here  for the Lia Chang Articles Archive and here for the Lia Chang Photography Website.

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