Hold These Truths
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by Jeanne Sakata

Directed by Benny Sato Ambush

Choreography by Jubilith Moore

Featuring Michael Hisamoto*, with Khloe Alice Lin, Gary Thomas Ng*, Samantha Richert*

Hold These Truths is the true story of Gordon Hirabayashi, the American son of Japanese immigrants, who resisted internment during World War II, a policy which continues to be cited and debated today.  Michael Hisamoto (Stage Kiss) plays Hirabayashi, a college student and a Quaker, whose hope and unquenchable patriotism over 50 years will leave audiences cheering.

Theatrical magic will be created by the use of three kurogos, “invisible” on-stage attendants found in Japan’s Kabuki theatrical tradition. 

The production’s aesthetics will reflect both Gordon Hirabayashi’s Japanese ancestry and his Quaker upbringing.

Summary

Told through flashbacks, Hirabayashi takes us through his early life, challenging the curfew and exclusion orders in 1942. In a virtuosic turn, Hisamoto portrays not only Hirabayashi, but also his parents, college friends, lawyers, military leaders, Supreme Court justices, Hopi Indians he meets in prison, and the Arizona prison boss who can’t figure out why he has hitchhiked down the California coast for his own imprisonment. His storytelling is assisted by a trio of kurogo — traditional Japanese stage hands — choreographed by Jubilith Moore and directed by Benny Sato Ambush.

He may have lost his case when he was alive, but Hirabayashi, a Quaker (“God is in each heart, not in a church”) and a University of Washington student who was active in the YMCA leadership training program, was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2012 by President Barack Obama. Paving the way to Hirabayashi’s ultimate victory, legal historian Peter Irons discovered myriad military documents, letters, and memos admitting that confining Japanese Americans to camps had not been a necessary security measure: The camps, they implied, were created out of hysteria and racism. Full of theatricality and humanity, Hold These Truths celebrates resistance and offers startling parallels for contemporary politics.

Season Sponsored by Lee & Diana Humphrey and Bank of America

Production sponsored by Mary and Doug Woodruff

Approximately 100 minutes with no intermission

Box Office: 617-585-5678 | boxoffice@lyricstage.com
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“An extraordinary relevant message for today!” — Chicago Star Tribune

“Absorbing, rewarding, surprisingly humorous and openhearted!” — Seattle Times

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Press & Reviews

Surprisingly funny at times, nearly always profound and of course resonant, the play has great power. Its force is dependent on the skill of Hisamoto, and he commands the stage, first with his wide-eyed innocence, then with growing disenchantment, finally with righteous anger.

South Shore Critic   —South Shore Critic

 

“Ambush is not only an invested director but a good one. The droll and delicate Lyric production tells Hirabayashi’s tale in a fashion in which his combined cultures gracefully dovetail. The kurogos capture both the modesty and fluidity of Japanese theater, Hisamoto Hirabayashi’s touching belief in both Japanese family values and the American rights he learns are far from unalienable.”

A Solo Exploration Of Japanese Internment, Lyric Stage’s ‘Hold These Truths’ Is Timely And Relevant   —WBUR The ARTery

 

“Replete with passion and outrage, but also solace and hope. a play that’s intended not to berate, but to liberate.”

We Hold These Truths   —Edge Media Network

 

“Superb! Surprisingly uplifting!” “If you’re looking for a way to find some holiday spirit but aren’t ready to take in one of the many fine productions of ‘A Christmas Carol’ being offered throughout the region, this may be the answer.”

Lyric’s ‘Hold These Truths’ Brings Light to Dark Chapter of American History   —The Theater Mirror

 

“[Michael Hisamoto] immerses himself in the character of Hirabayashi, delivering a subtly textured portrayal that conveys a vivid sense of the personality, as well as the fervent idealism, of a man who was willing to sacrifice his freedom for a cause.”

In ‘Hold These Truths,’ how a country turned on its own people   —The Boston Globe

 

“Gracefully staged by director Benny Sato Ambush, who is aided mightily by the adroit, feathery movements of the kurogos (Khloe Alice Lin, Gary Thomas Ng, and Samantha Richert). The trio’s actions as stagehands (and, on occasion, pantomimists) are deftly choreographed by Jubilith Moore.”

Theater Review: “Hold These Truths” — A Vital Lesson   —The Art Fuse

 

“Scenic designer Shelley Barish has set the play against a backdrop of sliding screens, as if the action were taking place in a traditional Japanese home. White fabric floats above the stage to serve as a screen for Jonathan Carr’s projections, which alternate between the WWII battles and the bleak landscapes where the camps were located. The music and sound score, created by Arshan Gailus, add to the Japanese-style aura.”

Hold These Truths   —Theater Mania

 

It was wonderful to see Spiro stride confidently onto the stage with just a cane. He seemed the strongest he’s been since the illness and his voice was back to its old self. My best to you and him and everyone at Lyric for a happy, healthy holiday season.

A HUMAN ‘NAIL’ TRIUMPHS IN ‘HOLD THESE TRUTHS’   —On Boston Stages

 

When the lights first illuminate the stage for the opening act of We Hold These Truths now playing at the Lyric Stage, Michael Hisamoto in the role of Gordon Hirabayashi is sitting in a chair facing the audience. There is a very long pause before he begins to speak. This creates an expectation that what we are about to hear from Mr. Hirabayashi is going to very important. In fact, not only what develops on that stage important, it is also deeply moving.

A Powerful Work About A Principled American Standing Up To Hatred And His Government   —Boxing Over Broadway

 

PREVIEWS & INTERVIEWS

“It’s the case for a lot of historical figures in the Asian-American community that they’re not widely known,” said Michael Hisamoto, who stars as Hirabayashi. “He’s a testament to being brave and standing up for your principles even though you fear what you might lose.”

One-man play tells the story of a man who resisted the internment of Japanese-Americans   —Wicked Local Reading

 

Director Benny Sato Ambush describes “Hold These Truths” as a “one-man show with a cast of thousands.” To augment actor Michael Hisamoto’s performance, Sato Ambush has enlisted the help of choreographer Jubilith Moore, who has integrated kurogos, traditional stage attendants in the Japanese theater forms of kabuki and noh, into the play.

A ‘Dream’ team for New Rep’s ‘Man of La Mancha’   —Boston Globe

 

“Gordon was the picture of principled resistance, sustained over a lifetime,” said director Benny Sato Ambush. “He insisted he was an American citizen — who looked like he did and had an ancestry like his — and that he be treated equally.”

‘Hold These Truths’ brings Japanese-American internment to center stage   —Sampan

Cast & Crew

 

* denotes member of Actor’s Equity Association
** denotes member of United Scenic Artists (USA-Locat 829)
*** denotes member of Stage Directors and Choreographers Society (SDC)

More Information

December 1 — December 31
11:40 am

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