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.
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 | email@example.com
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“An extraordinary relevant message for today!” — Chicago Star Tribune
“Absorbing, rewarding, surprisingly humorous and openhearted!” — Seattle Times
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.
“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.”
“Replete with passion and outrage, but also solace and hope. a play that’s intended not to berate, but to liberate.”
“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.”
“[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.”
“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.”
“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.”
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.
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.
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.”
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.
“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.”
Cast & Crew
Michael Hisamoto* (Gordon Hirabayashi) is a Boston-based actor, playwright, educator, and director. Recent acting credits include Stage Kiss, Fast Company (Lyric Stage), Charlotte’s Web (Wheelock Family Theatre), Yellow Face (The Office of War Information), The Ordinary Epic (Crose to Home Productions), and The Important Thing About Earthquakes (Watertown Children’s Theatre). Upcoming productions include Virginia Woolf’s Orlando (Lyric Stage) and Allegiance (SpeakEasy Stage). A strong proponent of new work, Michael has developed and workshopped new plays for companies like The Huntington Theatre Company, The Williamstown Theatre Festival, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, HowlRound, Fresh Ink Theatre Company, and more. In addition to his acting work, Michael was a Playwriting Resident at the Kennedy Center’s American College Theatre Festival, and has directed or assisted on numerous productions across Boston, and briefly led a children’s theatre troupe in Southern California, where he was also recognized for his work as a youth in the theatre by the California State Assembly and Senate. Michael believes in educating the next generation of artists, teaching and having taught at multiple institutions, and happily offers career consultation free of charge to young artists of color. Michael is a graduate of The Orange County School of the Arts and Boston University. MICHAELHISAMOTO.COM
Khloe Alice Lin (kurogo) is making her Lyric Stage debut. Her recent Boston credits include The Weird (Off the Grid), peerless (Company One), and Bear Patrol (Vaquero Playground). Next, she will be seen in Nomad Americana (Fresh Ink). She was in the original cast of the Chinese premiere of Vagina Monologues, and has performed extensively in China in her native tongue, Mandarin. She is a proud graduate of UC Berkeley with a degree in Comparative Literature and Theater. Love to my husband, Tyler.
Gary Thomas Ng* (kurogo) returns the Lyric Stage where he performed in Sideshow. Other credits include Miss Saigon (Ogunquit Playhouse, Worcester Foothills Theatre), Grease, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Footloose (Ogunquit Playhouse), Children of Eden (North Shore Music Theatre),Billy Elliot, A Year With Frog and Toad, Beauty and the Beast, Seussical, Annie, Peter Pan, HONK!, The Will Rogers Follies, Hello Dolly (Wheelock Family Theatre), A Chorus Line, The Boys Next Door, Children of Eden(SRT), and the Far East tour of Cole Porter’s Aladdin. Gary is also a photographer whose works include production photos for Ogunquit Playhouse, Gloucester Stage, and Wheelock Family Theatre.
Samantha Richert* (kurogo) returns to the Lyric Stage having previously been seen in City of Angelsand Becky’s New Car. Other local theatre credits include Elemeno Pea (Boston Playwrights’ Theatre), The Tempest (Actors’ Shakespeare Project), Lucky Stiff (Greater Boston Stage Company), Snow White and the Seven Bottoms, Jesus Christ, It’s Christmas! (Gold Dust Orphans), Ryan Landry’s ‘M’ (Huntington Theatre), The How and the Why (Central Square Theater), Much Ado About Nothing (Fiasco Productions),Moonchildren, Babes in Arms, A Christmas Carol, and Candide (Berkshire Theatre Group). Samantha holds an M.F.A. in Acting from Brandeis University and currently teaches for the Theatre Department at Northeastern University. She is also an educator, director, and movement and fight coordinator for various schools and youth theatre programs in the area. SAMANTHARICHERT.COM
Jeanne Sakata’s (Playwright) acclaimed solo play Hold These Truths (2013 Drama Desk Nomination, Outstanding Solo Performance), is slated for December productions with the Lyric Stage Company of Boston and NYC’s Hang A Tale at the Sheen Center, as well as at Washington DC’s Arena Stage in the spring of 2018. It was recently produced at Pasadena Playhouse, the Guthrie Theatre, Portland Center Stage, Perseverance Theatre, ACT Seattle, New Century Theatre, PlayMakers Repertory Company, and Epic Theatre Ensemble, following its 2007 world premiere at Los Angeles’ East West Players. As an actor, Jeanne has performed with the Public Theater, Kennedy Center, Mark Taper Forum, La Jolla Playhouse, South Coast Rep, American Conservatory Theatre, Berkeley Repertory Theatre, People’s Light and Theatre, Northlight Theatre, Intiman Theatre, A Contemporary Theatre, Oregon Shakespeare Festival Portland Center Stage, Syracuse Stage and the Arizona Theatre Company. Her recent TV and film credits include Big Hero 6, the internationally acclaimed indie film Advantageous, Dr. Ken, and Bravo’s True Fiction. Special honors: LA Ovation Award, Outstanding Lead Actress for Chay Yew’s Red, City of Pasadena Certificate of Recognition for Hold These Truths, Lee Melville Award for Outstanding Contribution to LA Theatre Community from Playwrights’ Arena, and LA Pacific American Friends of Theatre Outstanding Artist Award. JEANNSAKATA.COM holdthesetruths.info
Benny Sato Ambush (Director) returns to the Lyric Stage, having directed Nathan Jackson’s Broke-ology in 2011. An educator, consultant, and former National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) panelist/site evaluator and published commentator, he served for the past nine years as Senior Distinguished Producing Director-In-Residence of Emerson Stage, the producing wing of the Department of Performing Arts (PA) at Emerson College, and taught on PA’s acting and directing faculty. He has been Acting Artistic Director, Rites and Reason Theatre Company, Providence, RI; Producing Artistic Director, Oakland (CA) Ensemble Theatre; Associate Artistic Director, San Francisco’s American Conservatory Theater; Co-Artistic Director, San Francisco Bay Area Playwrights Festival; PEW Charitable Trust/TCG Director in Residence, Florida Stage; Associate Artistic Director, Anna Deavere Smith’s Institute on the Arts & Civic Dialogue at Harvard University; and Producing Artistic Director,TheatreVirginia (LORT C). He is one of only fifteen persons of color to have ever been Artistic Director of a LORT theatre. He has directed at many professional regional theatres throughout the U.S. and the Boston region, toured the former Soviet Union and Kenya via the United States Information Agency, and served as Director (equivalent to Department Chair) of the Institute for Teledramatic Arts and Technology at California State University- Monterey Bay. He taught at the B.A., B.F.A. and M.F.A. level at many universities and colleges throughout the nation. He has served on numerous regional and national boards, including Theatre Communications Group (TCG), and is an active advocate for cultural equity, non-traditional casting and pluralism in the American theater. He adjudicates nationally and internationally for the American Association of Community Theatres, is an Executive and Steering Committee member of the National Alliance of Acting Teachers, and is a member of The National Theatre Conference. M.F.A. in Directing, University of California, San Diego; B.A. in Theatre Arts and Dramatic Literature, Brown University.
Jubilith Moore (Choreographer) is a performer, director, teaching artist and producer for the theatre who has devoted her professional life to exploring the ongoing life of traditional Japanese and contemporary American theatre. She has studied noh with Richard Emmert, Akira Matsui and Kinue Oshima (Kita School) and kyogen with Yukio Ishida and Yuriko Doi (Izumi School). She is a Founding Company Member of Theatre Nohgaku and was Artistic Director of Theatre of Yugen from 2001-2014 and with the company from 1993-2014. She has been acknowledged by the Japan Foundation, Theatre Bay Area, Theatre Communications Group and the Center for Cultural Innovation.
Shelley Barish (Scenic Design) returns to the Lyric Stage after designing Camelot, Murder for Two, Mr. Burns, a post-electric play, Dear Elizabeth, and Becky’s New Car. Recent Boston-area designs include Someone Who’ll Watch Over Me, Top Girls, The Real Inspector Hound, The Real Thing (Bad Habit Productions), Mr. Burns (Northeastern University) and EEP! Show (New Exhibition Room). Other design credits include The Addams Family, West Side Story, Cards on the Table, Appointment with Death (Cortland Repertory Theatre), Boom!, Barefoot In The Park, Private Lives, Next Fall , Art (Bristol Valley Theatre), Assassins (Eastman School of Music), and New Moon, HMS Pinafore (The Ohio Light Opera). She is an associate professor in the Theatre Arts Program at UMASS Lowell and received her M.F.A from Michigan State University. SHELLEYBARISH.COM
Tobi Rinaldi (Costume Design) returns to the Lyric Stage having previously designed Murder for Two. He has recently designed costumes for the Spring Opera at Walnut Hill School for the Arts (The Finishing School), Assistant Design for The Bridges of Madison County (SpeakEasy Stage), and the independent film Randy’s Canvas (non-profit benefiting The Autism Project, RI). This is his second season also working at the Lyric Stage as Wardrobe Supervisor. He has previously worked in Theatre and Film in Hawaii as a Costume Designer and Wardrobe Supervisor as well as an instructor at EMC (English Musical Theatre Camp) in South Korea. Tobi earned his B.A. in Theatre from the University of Hawaii where he has had the opportunity to train and work in traditional Japanese Theatre and Costuming under Japanese Kita School of Noh Masters as well as in Chinese Acting, Costuming, and Make Up under Instructors from the Jiangsu Province Beijing Opera Company.
Karen Perlow** (Lighting Design) has been a Boston-area designer for over 20 years. She returns to the Lyric STage where favorite productions include: Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Death of a Salesman, Water by the Spoonful, Time Stands Still, My Name Is Asher Lev, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Miss Witherspoon, Urinetown, the Musical, Dirty Blonde, and Lobby Hero. Earlier this season she designed The Royale(Merrimack Repertory Theater), and Peer Gynt (Boston Symphony Orchestra). Later this season she will design Shakespeare in Love (SpeakEasy Stage), Two Jews Walk into a War (New Repertory Theater), andAnna Christie back here at the Lyric Stage. She is a three-time winner of the IRNE Award for Best Lighting Design (2009, 2007, 2002), and NYC SOLO Fest 2013. Karen has taught Light Design at Northeastern and MIT as well as English to Speakers of Other Languages with the YMCA. Member USA 829.
Arshan Gailus** (Sound Design and Original Music) returns to the Lyric Stage after designing sound and composing music for Stage Kiss, Fast Company, Chinglish, Avenue Q, The Temperamentals, Superior Donuts, The Understudy, Blithe Spirit, and Legacy of Light. He has created soundscapes and original music for theater companies including ArtsEmerson, The Huntington Theatre, Shakespeare & Company, Contemporary American Theater Festival, A.R.T Institute, New Repertory Theater, Actors’ Shakespeare Project, Brandeis University, The Nora Theatre Company, SpeakEasy Stage, Gloucester Stage, and Company One. Arshan was awarded the 2016 IRNE Award for Best Sound Design (Small Theater) for his design of appropriate (SpeakEasy Stage) and was a member of the Elliot Norton Award winningdesign teams for The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity (Company One, 2012) and Twelfth Night (Actors’ Shakespeare Project, 2011). Arshan teaches Sound Design at Emerson College where he serves as Resident Sound Designer for Emerson Stage, and he has designed sound and composed original music for independent video games in the Boston area and internationally. Arshan holds a B.S. in Music from MIT. ARSHANGAILUS.COM
* 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)