Hold These Truths Review - The Rocky Road to Justice

Real life really is stranger than fiction. HOLD THESE TRUTHS lends stirring truth to that overworked trope. Thanks to playwright Jeanne Sakata’s tireless research and skill with words, Gordon Hirabayashi’s story can finally be told. Originally produced at the East West Players in 2007 under the title “Dawn’s Light: The Journey of Gordon Hirabayashi,” this moving piece has come to the Pasadena Playhouse.

Ryun Yu as Gordon Hirabayashi - Photo by Jim Cox Photography

Produced in association with East West Players and directed by talented Jessica Kubzansky, HOLD THESE TRUTHS tells the true story of Hirabayashi, who refused to comply with World War II Executive Order 9066 and surrender himself for removal to a detention center because of his Japanese ancestry. After all, Hirabayashi was a born and bred American with all the inalienable constitutional rights of any American citizen - or was he?

Ryun Yu - Photo by Jim Cox Photography

HOLD THESE TRUTHS delves into issues of democracy, constitutional law, and human rights – but also plumbs the heart of a young man who believes to the core of his being that what’s fair is fair. This is a man who is convinced that justice will triumph – and that the rule of law is unbiased, rational, and just.  Hirabayashi takes his case all the way up to the Supreme Court, and what ensues will shock many theater-goers unfamiliar with Executive Order 9066.

Ryun Yu - Photo by Jim Cox Photography

Talented solo performer Ryun Yu stars as Gordon Hirabayashi. Yu holds the audience in the palm of his hand as he follows the unexpected adventures of this dedicated young man. HOLD THESE TRUTHS is studded with moments that may bring tears to your eyes – and the occasional chuckle punctuated by sporadic anger. But as Yu ages before your eyes, the world also begins to change.

Ryun Yu - Photo by Jim Cox Photography

With a few chairs, a couple of changes of clothing, and clever use of lighting, Yu recreates youthful innocence through maturing wisdom while he takes on the roles of  those who loved him, feared him, or just didn’t understand him. Kubzansky’s direction is faultless as the play creates its own universe and brings the audience back almost 80 years to a shameful period in U.S. history.

HOLD THESE TRUTHS manages to take some hideous historic facts and events and bring them down to the manageable perspective of just one man. This is a very human view of history. As such, it is a fascinating peak into how these events impacted on the lives of the people they targeted. This is a play which has captivated audiences from coast-to-coast. It is heartwarming, entertaining, and powerful. But most important – it is human; and it never loses sight of that. After every performance, the Pasadena Playhouse sponsors post-show activities to bring people together and to facilitate open and productive discussion. This add-on is definitely the cherry on top!

SPLASH SLECTION 

HOLD THESE TRUTHS runs through June 25, 2017, with performances at 8 p.m. on Tuesdays through Fridays, at 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. on Saturdays, and at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. on Sundays. The Pasadena Playhouse is located at 39 S. El Molino Avenue, Pasadena, CA. Tickets range from $25 to $115. For information and reservations, call 626-356-7529. 

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