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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, August 7, 2015 - Volume 43 Issue 31
Hold These Truths is a MUST SEE - and bring everyone you know!
Arts & Entertainment
ALL STORIES
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Hold These Truths is a MUST SEE - and bring everyone you know!

by Miryam Gordon - SGN A&E Writer

HOLD THESE TRUTHS
ACT THEATRE
Through August 16


A powerful 90-minute solo performance, Hold These Truths, currently playing at ACT Theatre, is everything that makes theater unique, important, and amazing. Gordon Hirabayashi, the subject of the piece and the man who speaks to you from the stage, is as heroic an individual as I can imagine. Actor-turned-playwright Jeanne Sakata was so moved by her subject that she became a writer to tell his story. She does a masterful job, with the help of consummate theater practitioners director Jessica Kubzansky and actor Ryan Yu. It is a unique opportunity to experience this exceptional production in Hirabayashi's hometown - which makes it even more powerful, I would think, than anywhere else.

Gordon Hirabayashi was a Seattle native who refused to relocate to an internment camp after the Japanese military bombed Pearl Harbor and refused, again, to be drafted in the United States Armed Services, because it meant signing a pledge that he would not swear allegiance to the Japanese Emperor. Though he was not a lawyer, and not even that great a student (by this account), somehow he figured out what few Japanese-Americans seemed ready to agitate for: the internment was anti-Constitutional and so was asking only Japanese-American potential soldiers to sign a loyalty pledge.

The play tells of his life before his activism and what he and his family had to go through when he stood up for his principles. Stingingly, it details the racism in Seattle specifically, that it was more ingrained and harsh than in New York City, for instance. There were No Japs served here signs in windows, seats only in balconies, lunch counter restrictions, even whole neighborhoods to avoid.

Gordon Hirabayashi and a few others saw the anti-constitutionalism clearly and fought against every familial, societal, political and military reaction, all the way up to the Supreme Court, which turned out to be far from supreme and full of very human, very scared, and very wrong justices. So, he lost. And he spent time in prison. Yet, he became a professor and taught. He kept his humanity and his principles.

Ryan Yu, in a three-chair staging, with a suitcase, a couple of books, and a writing pad, creates the whole story, along with an assortment of people around Gordon's life: his best friend in college, his mother, lawyers, jailers, and Gordon as a youth and older man. It is the quintessential around-the-fire tale, but it's true. He brings vigor and emotion and passion and stagecraft to the task, and then just lets it fly to unspool before us.

Though the staging is spare, it does include gorgeous lighting and sound design from Ben Zamora and Brendan Patrick Hogan, respectively.

OK, this is really a great opportunity to see something that embodies what theater can be all about. So, if you haven't tried yet to get a ticket, please do yourself a favor and do whatever you can to make it happen.

For more information, go to www.acttheatre.org or call 206-292-7676.

Discuss your opinions with sgncritic@gmail.com or go to www.facebook.com/SeattleTheaterWriters. More articles can be found at miryamstheatermusings.blogspot.com.

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