Backstage Pass with Lia Chang

Guthrie Theater Presents Jeanne Sakata’s HOLD THESE TRUTHS Starring Joel de la Fuente, Oct. 7-23

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

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

The Guthrie Theater is presenting Jeanne Sakata‘s Hold These Truths in the Dowling Studio, starring Drama Desk nominee Joel de la Fuente (“Man in the High Castle”, Hemlock Grove”) and helmed by Lisa Rothe, October 7 – 23, 2016. Opening night is Thursday, October 13. All tickets for productions in the Dowling Studio are $9. To purchase tickets, call the Guthrie Theater Box Office 612.377.2224 or toll-free 877.44.STAGE and online at www.guthrietheater.orgThe Guthrie is located at 818 South 2nd Street, Minneapolis, MN 55415.

 Q & A with Joel de la Fuente, Star of The Man in the High Castle and Hemlock Grove

Hold These Truths explores the life and legacy of Gordon Hirabayashi, a survivor of the Japanese Internment Camps and posthumous winner of the Presidential Medal of Honor.

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.

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.

Helmed by Lisa Rothe, Joel de la Fuente will reprise his role as Gordon Hirabayashi and 36 other characters in Hold These Truths, which had its New York premiere in October 2012 in a production by Epic Theatre Ensemble at the Theatre at the 14th Street Y. Sakata’s solo show tells the story of Gordon Hirabayshi 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.

The creative team includes Mikiko Suzuki MacAdams (set design), Cat Tate Starmer (light design), Daniel Kluger (sound design), Margaret E. Weedon (costume design) and Mary K. Botosan (Stage Manager). 

In the dressing room with Joel de la Fuente, who stars as Gordon Hirabayashi in Jeanne Sakata's Hold These Truths at The Theatre at the 14th Street Y in New York on November 24, 2012. Joel is holding a photo of Esther Schmoe and Gordon Hirabayashi on their wedding day. Photo by Lia Chang

In the dressing room with Joel de la Fuente, who stars as Gordon Hirabayashi in Jeanne Sakata’s Hold These Truths at The Theatre at the 14th Street Y in New York on November 24, 2012. Joel is holding a photo of Esther Schmoe and Gordon Hirabayashi on their wedding day. Photo by Lia Chang

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.

“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—but his portrayal of Hirabayashi, whom President Obama just this year posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, feels eerily true to life.”
The New Yorker, October 2012

Joel de la Fuente attends the episode screening and premiere for the Amazon Originals Series ‘The Man in the High Castle’ at Alice Tully Hall on November 2, 2015. Photo by Lia Chang

Joel de la Fuente attends the episode screening and premiere for the Amazon Originals Series ‘The Man in the High Castle’ at Alice Tully Hall on November 2, 2015. Photo by Lia Chang

Currently, Joel can be seen on two Emmy Award winning original series:  as Chief Inspector Kido in Amazon Studio’s “The Man in the High Castle” and in “Hemlock Grove,” as Dr. Johann Pryce, available exclusively on Netflix.

Joel de la Fuente. Photo by Lia Chang

Joel de la Fuente. Photo by Lia Chang

Selected New York theatrical credits include: Hold These Truths for its New York premiere at Epic Theater (Drama Desk Nomination);  Ivanov in Ivanov (Mint Theater/NAATCO, Jonathan Bank, dir.); The Downtown Plays (Tribeca Theater Festival, John Rando, dir.); Claudio in Beatrice and Benedict with the New York Philharmonic (conducted by Sir Colin Davis); The Square (Lisa Petersen, dir.); America Dreaming (Michael Mayer, dir.); Valentine in The Two Gentlemen of Verona (NYSF, Adrian Hall, dir.); Iago in Othello (NAATCO, Jonathan Bank, dir.). Other theatrical credits include: Chay Yew’s Wonderland (La Jolla Playhouse, Lisa Petersen, dir.); Liu Mengmei in the Peter Sellars’ production of The Peony Pavilion which performed in Vienna, Rome, Paris, and London’s Barbican Centre and more.

On television, Joel spent ten seasons appearing as TARU technician Ruben Morales in “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.” He played Lt. Paul Wang on “Space: Above & Beyond,” and recurred on various series, including Sidney Lumet’s “100 Centre Street,” “E.R.” and Steve Spielberg’s “High Incident.”

On screen, he stars in the feature film “Brief Reunion,” currently available on iTunes (garnering the  Audience Choice Award from the  Gotham International Film Festival and Best Narrative Film Award from the University Film and Video Association).  Other selected film credits include:  “Personal Velocity” (Sundance Grand Jury Winner); “The Adjustment Bureau”; “The Happening”; and “Return to Paradise” among others.

As a writer, Joel’s essay on his experiences as an Asian American actor is published in Pyong Gap Min’s “Struggle for Ethnic Identity,” and he is a co-writer of “Life Document 2: Identity” with Pulitzer Prize winner, Ayad Akthar, which won the Columbia Students Award for Best Film in 2002.

Joel is an alumnus of Brown University and the Graduate Acting Program at N.Y.U.

Lisa Rothe

Lisa Rothe

Lisa Rothe (Director) was nominated for SDC’s Joe A. Callaway Award for Direction for Hold These Truths by Jeanne Sakata, produced by Epic Theatre Ensemble in NYC (also produced at the Honolulu Theatre for Youth, the SoloNova Festival in NYC, PlayMakers Rep in North Carolina, and ACT Theatre in Seattle). Recent projects: Detroit ’67 by Dominique Morrisseau at Playmakers Repertory Company; Confederates by Suzanne Bradbeer at TheatreWorks; Ropes by Mexican playwright Barbara Colio at Two River Theater; The Harassment of Iris Malloy by Zak Berkman and Dear Elizabeth by Sarah Ruhl (with Rinde Eckert & Ellen McLaughlin, and with music composed by Rinde Eckert) for People’s Light; Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (Chautauqua Theatre Company); Penelope by Ellen McLaughlin and composer Sarah Kirkland Snider (Playmakers Rep); Ada, a new opera about Ada Byron, by composer Kim Sherman and librettist Margaret Vandenburg, presented as part of the Center for Contemporary Opera’s Development Series. Lisa has workshopped, developed, and directed hundreds of new plays and musicals, working with many award-winning writers. In NY, she has directed and/or developed work with the Lark Play Development Center, New York Theatre Workshop, The Public Theater, Epic Theatre Ensemble, New Georges, the Women’s Project, Primary Stages, The Foundry, Ensemble Studio Theatre, 52nd Street Project, Naked Angels, BAM, Summer Play Festival, NYMF, Midtown International Theatre Festival (Best Director), National Actors Theatre, Keen Company (Keen Teens), Orchard Project, Voice & Vision, HERE, Dixon Place, and has taught and directed at NYU’s Graduate Acting Program, Yale School of Drama, The Juilliard School, Chautauqua Conservatory, ESPA at Primary Stages, Queens College and many other training programs across the country. Lisa is a graduate of NYU’s Graduate Acting Program and Director’s Lab, as well as a Drama League alum, Fox Fellow, alum of the Women’s Project Director’s Lab, a member of the National Theater Conference and recently served on the Board of the League of Professional Theatre Women as VP of Membership. For five years, Lisa was the Director of Global Exchange at the Lark, where she provided expanded opportunities for playwrights, aimed at advancing new work to production nationally and globally.
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 Guthrie Theatre run, the play is also being produced at Portland Center Stage and the Perseverance Theatre.  Premiering at LA’s East West Players in 2007, Hold These Truths had its off-Broadway debut with the Epic Theatre Ensemble in 2012 (Drama Desk Nomination for Outstanding Solo Performance, actor Joel de la Fuente; Joe A. Callaway Award Finalist, Outstanding Direction, director Lisa Rothe) 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.,

THE GUTHRIE THEATER (Joseph Haj, Artistic Director) was founded by Sir Tyrone Guthrie in 1963 and is an American center for theater performance, production, education and professional training, dedicated to producing the great works of dramatic literature and to cultivating the next generation of theater artists. Under the leadership of Haj, the Guthrie produces a mix of classic and contemporary plays on three stages, and continues to set a national standard for excellence in theatrical production and performance. In 2006, the Guthrie opened its new home on the banks of the Mississippi River in Minneapolis. Designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Jean Nouvel, the Guthrie Theater houses three state-of-the-art stages, production facilities, classrooms, full-service restaurants and dramatic public lobbies. For more, visit

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

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