Backstage Pass with Lia Chang

Photos: Jeanne Sakata’s HOLD THESE TRUTHS Starring Ryun Yu at the Armory through Nov. 13

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. Helmed by Jessica Kubzansky, who directed the world premiere of Hold These Truths at East West Players in Los Angeles, the PCS production stars Ryun Yu, who originated the role of Hirabayashi at East West Players. Hold These Truths began previews October 1st in the Ellyn Bye Studio, with opening night set for Friday, October 7th. Performances will continue through November 13.

Ryun Yu as Gordon Hirabayashi in "Hold These Truths" at The Armory. Photo credit: Patrick Weishampel

Ryun Yu as Gordon Hirabayashi in “Hold These Truths” at The Armory. Photo credit: Patrick Weishampel

Regular tickets start at $25. Tickets may be purchased at www.pcs.org, 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. Information at https://www.pcs.org/truths.

Ryun Yu as Gordon Hirabayashi in "Hold These Truths" at The Armory. Photo credit: Patrick Weishampel

Ryun Yu as Gordon Hirabayashi in “Hold These Truths” at The Armory. Photo credit: Patrick Weishampel

ABOUT THE PLAY

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.”

Ryun Yu as Gordon Hirabayashi in "Hold These Truths" at The Armory. Photo credit: Patrick Weishampel

Ryun Yu as Gordon Hirabayashi in “Hold These Truths” at The Armory. Photo credit: Patrick Weishampel

Ryun Yu as Gordon Hirabayashi in "Hold These Truths" at The Armory. Photo credit: Patrick Weishampel

Ryun Yu as Gordon Hirabayashi in “Hold These Truths” at The Armory. Photo credit: Patrick Weishampel

FROM THE PLAYWRIGHT

“When I discover Ed Gordon’s story in the late 1990’s – so full of heartbreak, but also his irrepressible humor and zest for life – it was a life-changing experience,” said playwright Jeanne Sakata. “I knew I had to try to bring his story to the American stage, not just as an act of healing for myself, my family and my community, but also to inspire and give hope to any American citizen who has been denied equal treatment under the law promised by our Constitution because of factors such as race, gender, sexual orientation, and who must battle constantly to make those promises a living reality.”

Photo Flash: HOLD THESE TRUTHS Opens at The Armory on Friday
Ryun Yu as Gordon Hirabayashi in “Hold These Truths” at The Armory. Photo credit: Patrick Weishampel

FROM THE DIRECTOR

“As I worked on this play (which in some ways is a love story between a man and his Constitution), I realized that for the first time in my life I was encountering a true American hero,” said director Jessica Kubzansky. “Gordon Hirabayashi lived his beliefs in the face of enormous opposition and adversity, and did so with humility and grace. The relevance of this story resonates more powerfully than ever during this election season. Today more than ever we need people like Gordon Hirabayashi, who, in the way they conduct themselves in times of extraordinary challenge, model courage and integrity for us.”

Ryun Yu

Ryun Yu

PERFORMER Ryun Yu
Ryun Yu’s credits include: Mark in the film adaptation of David Henry Hwang’s Bondage; the fictional David Henry Hwang in Yellow Face in the first adaptation of a major theatrical play for YouTube; Takeshi in the world premiere of Tokyo Fish Story at South Coast Repertory; the West Coast premiere of Richard Greenberg’s Take Me Out at Geffen Playhouse; Philip Kan Gotanda’s Sisters Matsumoto at Seattle Repertory Theatre and Huntington Theatre Company; the world premiere of Lloyd Suh’s American Hwangap at San Francisco’s Magic Theatre; Art and the Los Angeles premiere of Julia Cho’s The Language Archive at East West Players; and Sea Change at the Gay and Lesbian Center. Film appearances include Only the Brave, The Brothers Solomon and The Mikado Project. TV appearances include Fuller House, Bones, Good Luck Charlie and Castle. Yu co-wrote, co-produced, directed and starred in the feature film The Last Tour that debuted at the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival earlier this year. Yu was the first Korean-American to train at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London and has the first theater degree ever awarded by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Jeanne Sakata (Photo by Lia Chang)

Jeanne Sakata (Photo by Lia Chang)

PLAYWRIGHT Jeanne Sakata

Jeanne Sakata is an acclaimed actor who made her playwriting debut with Hold These Truths. As an actor, Sakata performed for Portland Center Stage at The Armory in David Henry Hwang’s M. Butterfly and Chay Yew’s Red, as well as for The Public Theater, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, Kennedy Center, Mark Taper Forum, South Coast Repertory, La Jolla Playhouse, Intiman Theatre, ACT Theatre (Seattle), ACT (San Francisco) and Berkeley Repertory Theatre. Film and TV appearances include Advantageous (2015 Sundance Film Festival) and guest starring roles on True Fiction, Dr. Ken, NCIS Los Angeles, Tyler Perry’s Meet the Browns, Desperate Housewives and ER, among others. Honors include the lee Melville Award for outstanding contributions to the Los Angeles theatre community; Outstanding Artist Award from LA Asian Pacific American Friends of Theatre; and the establishment of the Jeanne Sakata Collection in the Library of Congress Playwrights Archive, Asian American Pacific Islander Collection. Find out more at www.jeannesakata.com and www.holdthesetruths.info.

THE CREATIVE TEAM

Jessica Kubzansky

Jessica Kubzansky

Jessica Kubzansky, who previously directed I Love to Eat at The Armory, is the co-artistic director of The Theatre @ Boston Court in Pasadena. Her recent credits include the New York premiere of Sheila Callaghan’s Everything You Touch for Rattlestick at The Cherry Lane and Stupid Fucking Bird at ACT Theatre in Seattle. For the Portland production of Hold These Truths, Kubzansky will be joined by two members of the creative team from the recent Seattle production: Scenic and Lighting Designer Ben Zamora (whose work has been seen at The Barbican Centre and Royal Festival Hall, Mariinsky Theatre, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, Brisbane Festival, and others); and Sound Designer and Original Music Composer John Zalewski (last at The Armory for
I Love to Eat). Alex Wren Meadows, the new resident costume shop manager at The Armory, will coordinate costumes inspired by the original designs from Soojin Lee for the 2007 world premiere. Completing the creative team are Rehearsal Stage Manager Alyssa Escalante, Performance Stage Manager Kelsey Daye Lutz and Production Assistant Kristen Mun.

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

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 Playbill.com.

All text, graphics, articles & photographs: © 2000-2016 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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