Hold These Truths Opening Night at Honolulu Theatre for Youth's Tenney Theatre with Daniel Dae Kim, Joel de la Fuente and Jeanne Sakata

Posted by Lia Chang

Playwright Jeanne Sakata flew to Honolulu on Thursday, February 21, 2013 for a double celebration, to attend the opening night performance of Hold These Truths, her acclaimed Off Broadway one-man show inspired by the true story of second generation Japanese-American Gordon Hirabayashi, which opened at Honolulu Theatre for Youth’s Tenney Theatre, and to celebrate her husband Tim’s 60th birthday.

Playwright Jeanne Sakata with her husband and birthday boy, Tim Patterson. Photo by Phyllis Look

Playwright Jeanne Sakata with her husband and birthday boy, Tim Patterson. Photo by Phyllis Look


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 show is being 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.

The limited engagement performance schedule is 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.

Joel de la Fuente, Tosh Furugori, Gordon Hirabayashi's sister and Jeanne Sakata

Joel de la Fuente, Tosh Furugori, Gordon Hirabayashi’s sister and Jeanne Sakata

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 and Daniel Dae Kim celebrate the opening night performance of Jeanne Sakata's Hold These Truths the Honolulu Theatre for Youth's Tenney Theatre on February 21, 2013. Photo by Jeanne Sakata

Joel de la Fuente and Daniel Dae Kim celebrate the opening night performance of Jeanne Sakata’s Hold These Truths at the Honolulu Theatre for Youth’s Tenney Theatre on February 21, 2013. Photo by Jeanne Sakata


Daniel Dae Kim said, “I was deeply moved by HOLD THESE TRUTHSwhen 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


A review in the The Honolulu Pulse…

HOLD THESE TRUTHS, written by Jeanne Sakata and brought to Hawaii by “Hawaii Five-0″ actor Daniel Dae Kim and Honolulu Theatre for Youth, is the story of Gordon Hirayabashi and how he took his plea for justice in wartime all the way to the Supreme Court. It is a remarkable story, and with Joel de le Fuente starring in this one-man show, “Hold These Truths” is must-see theater as well as the actor’s tour de force….It is a brilliant performance….It is also an entertaining and enlightening journey through a dark chapter in American history and the society that made it possible.”

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, Jeanne Sakata and Daniel Dae Kim

Joel de la Fuente, Jeanne Sakata and Daniel Dae Kim


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 inIvanovThe Downtown Plays; Claudio in Beatrice and Benedict, with the NY Philharmonic;The SquareAmerica 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 VelocityThe Adjustment BureauThe HappeningHeightsReturn 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.”

Hold These Truths director Lisa Rothe and Tosh Furugori, Gordon Hirabayashi's sister. Photo by Jeanne Sakata

Hold These Truths director Lisa Rothe and Tosh Furugori, Gordon Hirabayashi’s sister. Photo by Jeanne Sakata


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)
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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.

Daniel Dae Kim and Joel de la Fuente with Esther (Tosh) Furugori, Gordon Hirabayashi's sister, and Irene Hirano Inouye, wife of the late Senator Daniel K. Inouye from Hawaii, to whom the production was dedicated.

Daniel Dae Kim and Joel de la Fuente with Esther (Tosh) Furugori, Gordon Hirabayashi’s sister, and Irene Hirano Inouye, wife of the late Senator Daniel K. Inouye from Hawaii, to whom the production was dedicated.


Joel de la Fuente, Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, Daniel Dae Kim

Joel de la Fuente, Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, Daniel Dae Kim


Phyllis Look and Daniel Akiyama, director and playwright of A CAGE OF FIREFLIES at Honolulu's Kumu Kahua Theatre, with Jeanne Sakata.

Phyllis Look and Daniel Akiyama, director and playwright of A CAGE OF FIREFLIES at Honolulu’s Kumu Kahua Theatre, with Jeanne Sakata.


Rebecca Dunning, Managing Director, Honolulu Theatre For Youth; Jeanne Sakata, Eric Johnson, Artistic Director, Honolulu Theatre For Youth

Rebecca Dunning, Managing Director, Honolulu Theatre For Youth; Jeanne Sakata, Eric Johnson, Artistic Director, Honolulu Theatre For Youth