By Lia Chang
As Gordon Hirabayashi, Joel de la Fuente is a revelation in his nuanced tour-de-force portrayal of Gordon, seamlessly transforming into 30+ other characters throughout the course of The Epic Theatre Ensemble’s New York premiere of Jeanne Sakata’s critically-acclaimed solo play Hold These Truths (formerly known as Dawn’s Light: The Journey of Gordon Hirabayashi), directed by Lisa Rothe, which recently played an extended run at The Theatre at the 14th Street Y in New York. (Click on the blue link above or here for the full feature and videos.)
Playwright Jeanne Sakata was inspired by a true story to write Hold These Truths, which is set in Seattle during World War II, where University of Washington student Gordon Hirabayashi 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 Gordon Hirabayashi (1918-2012), the nation’s highest civilian honor, in April 2012.
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