Running time: 90 minutes (no intermission)

Jeanne Sakata's one-man show is inspired by the true story of University of Washington student Gordon Hirabayashi. Gordon agonizes over U.S. Government orders to forcibly remove and mass incarcerate all people of Japanese ancestry on the West Coast during WWII. 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.  

The play was a sold-out hit in ACT's Central Heating Lab (now ACTLab) in 2014 and moves to the Mainstage for its first multi-week run at a professional theatre.

Support provided by  Nesholm Family Community partner Japan-America Society of the State of Washington
Illustration by Barry Blankenship


Ryun Yu* as Gordon Hirabayashi
Ryun Yu is the first Korean-American to train at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London, and has the first theatre degree ever awarded by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His parents still speak to him. He just finished playing Mark in the film adaptation of David Henry Hwang's Bondage . This is Ryun's second film collaboration with David Henry Hwang—he played Hwang in Yellow Face , which was the first adaptation of a major play for YouTube. Other film credits include The Last Tour (which he is also directing), Only the Brave, The Brothers Solomon , and The Mikado Project . His television appearances include The Whole Truth, Bones, Good Luck Charlie, and The Unit . He played George in the Los Angeles premiere of Julia Cho's The Language Archive and David in the world premiere of Lloyd Suh's American Hwangap at the Magic Theatre in San Francisco. In Los Angeles, he has played Ivan in Art at East West Players, Gene in Sea Change at the Gay and Lesbian Center (Maddy Award, Ovation Award nomination), and all of the character's in Dawn's Light at East West Players. He also performed in the west coast premiere of Richard Greenberg's Tony Award-winning Take Me Out at the Geffen Playhouse. He is honored to be in this production, a major step in a long journey with playwright Jeanne Sakata and director Jessica Kubzansky. This one is dedicated to his wife Nicole, who is, quite simply, the best.

Ryun Yu

Creative Team

Jessica Kubzansky
Ben Zamora
Brendan Patrick Hogan
John Zalewski
Michael B. Paul*
Victoria Thompson
Scenic and Lighting Designer
Sound Designer
Original Sound Designer
Stage Manager
Production Assistant

Jeanne Sakata (Playwright) Jeanne is honored that her solo play, Hold These Truths, will be performed as part of ACT’s 50th Anniversary Mainstage Season, following four sold-out performances last summer in ACTLab. Its Los Angeles premiere took place at East West Players in 2007, and was co-presented by the UCLA Department of Asian American Studies, the UCLA Asian American Studies Center, and the Japanese American National Museum. Hold These Truths was also performed with Silk Road Rising in Millennium Park. Its New York Off-Broadway premiere took place at Epic Theatre Ensemble in 2012 (2013 Drama Desk Nomination, Outstanding Solo Performance), with subsequent performances at Honolulu Theatre for Youth co-presented with Daniel Dae Kim, and PlayMakers Repertory Company. Jeanne is also a renowned actress who has performed with The Public Theatre, Lincoln Center Theater, Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the Mark Taper Forum, South Coast Repertory, La Jolla Playhouse, Intiman Theatre, ACT, and American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco. Jeanne is a recipient of the LA Stage Alliance Ovation Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in Chay Yew’s Red at East West Players. The Jeanne Sakata Collection has been established in the Library of Congress Playwrights Archive, Asian American Pacific Islander Collection in Washington DC.

Jessica Kubzansky (Director) is the Co-Artistic Director of The Theatre @ Boston Court in Pasadena and an award-winning nationaldirector. She developed and directed the world premiere of Jeanne Sakata’s Hold These Truths at East West Players, and subsequently for many others, including Silk Road in Chicago. New works include the New York premiere of Sheila Callaghan’s Everything You Touch (The Cherry Lane), world premieres of EYT, Michael Elyanow’s The Children, Jordan Harrison’s Futura, Laura Schellhardt’s Courting Vampires, Salamone/McIntyre’s Gulls, Mickey Birnbaum’s Bleed Rail, Carlos Murillo’s Unfinished American Highwayscape, Van Itallie’s Light, Cody Henderson’s Cold/Tender (all at Theatre @ Boston Court), Julie Hébert’s Tree (Ensemble Studio Theatre/Los Angeles) Bob Clyman’s Tranced (Laguna Playhouse), Bryan Davidson’s War Music (Geffen Playhouse), Tom Jacobson’s The Orange Grove, and Salamone/McIntyre’s Moscow (Playwrights’ Arena/Chekhov Now). Other recent work includes Pygmalion (Pasadena Playhouse), RII, a three-person Richard II (Theatre @ Boston Court), James Still’s I Love to Eat (Portland Center Stage), The 39 Steps (La Mirada), and Macbeth (Anteaus). Jessica has worked with many great playwrights, including Aditi Kapil, Luis Alfaro, Christina Anderson, Bill Cain, Julia Cho, Frances Ya-Chu Cowhig, Zayd Dohrn, Michael Hollinger, Peter Sinn Nachtrieb, Diana Son, Ken Urban, and David Wiener. Kubzansky received the LA Drama Critics’ Circle Award for Sustained Excellence in Theatre.

Ben Zamora (Scenic and Lighting Designer) Ben is a Seattle-based artist and lighting designer. He received an M.F.A. in lighting design from the University of Washington and a B.A. in theatre from the University of California, Santa Cruz. Recently, Ben has created large-scale light installations for The Park Avenue Armory, Art Basel/Design Miami, the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, Frye Art Museum, and the Suyama Space, among many others. Ben’s designs have been seen internationally, including at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in New York, Royal Festival Hall and The Barbican Center in London, the Mariinsky Theatre in Russia, the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles, Stockholm’s Baltic Sea Festival, the Helsinki Festival, the Berliner Festspiele, the Lucerne Festival in Switzerland, Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, DeDoelen in The Netherlands, and Festival d’Aix-en-Provence and Salle Pleyel in France. Previously at ACT, Ben designed Middletown, The Pitmen Painters, and In the Next Room, or the vibrator play.

Brendan Patrick Hogan (Sound Designer) Brendan has designed over 50 mainstage and limited-run productions on ACT stages, including a number of world premieres. In addition to his work at ACT, other designs and compositions have been heard at Seattle Repertory Theatre, Seattle Shakespeare Company, Arizona Theatre Company, Artist’s Repertory Theatre, George Street Playhouse, Wellfleet Harbor Actor’s Theatre, Center Theatre Group, Book-It Repertory Theatre, Washington Ensemble Theatre, and Amnesty International. 

Michael B. Paul (Stage Manager) is pleased to celebrate ACT’s 50th Anniversary with this production of Hold These Truths. Past shows with ACT: First Date (with The 5th Avenue Theatre), First Class, Miss Golden Dreams, Cat on A Hot Tin Roof, and In The Penal Colony. He has also celebrated the 10th anniversary with the Alaska Repertory Theatre; the 20th with the Alliance Theatre in Atlanta; the 40th with the Seattle Children’s Theatre and the 20th, 30th, 40th, and 50th anniversary seasons with the Seattle Repertory Theatre. He began his Seattle theatrical career at the Skid Road Theatre with The Me Nobody Knows and Grease.

* Members of Actors’ Equity Association, the Union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers in the United States

Post-Play Panel Discussions

Stay after the play for an expanded Post-Play Discussion on stage in The Falls Theatre, moderated by ACT Staff and featuring special guests.

Aug 4 |  Moderated by Anita Montgomery
Lorraine Bannai, Director of Fred T. Korematsu Center for Law and Equality
Maria Batayola, Committee Chair of the Legacy of Justice
Tom Ikeda, Director of Densho 

Aug 9 | Moderated by Kenna Kettrick
Lorraine Bannai, Director of Fred T. Korematsu Center for Law and Equality
John de Graaf, Filmmaker
Michael Leong, Senior Vice President of Corporate and Legal Affairs at Sea Mar Community Health Center

Aug 16 | Moderated by Kurt Beattie
Daniel Ichinaga, Lawyer
Tetsuden Kashima, UW Sociology Professor 
Steve Sumida, UW American Ethnic Studies Professor 

More about the Panelists:

Lorraine Bannai is Director of the Fred T. Korematsu Center for Law and Equality and a Professor of Legal Skills at Seattle University School of Law. After earning her J.D. from the University of San Francisco School of Law, Professor Bannai practiced with what is now the San Francisco firm of Minami Tamaki. While in practice, she was on the legal team that successfully challenged Fred Korematsu’s conviction for violating military orders removing Japanese Americans from the West Coast during World War II. Professor Bannai was the director of academic support at the University of California, Berkeley, Boalt Hall; taught in Western Washington University's Law and Diversity Program; and has taught at the University of San Francisco School of Law. Her biography of Fred Korematsu is forthcoming from the University of Washington Press in October 2015.   Truths_Lorraine_Bannai

Maria Batayola is a playwright, co-founder of TEA (Theatrical Ensemble of Asians, forerunner of Northwest Asian Exclusion Act and Northwest Asian American Theatre), journalist and longtime community and civil rights activist. She has lead human resources, inclusion, equity and access programs at Metro, King County, Public Works, and Seattle Center. She continues her passion for community development and fusing history with art and culture for audience educations and enjoyment. She owns Jump Start and currently serves as Chair of the Hirabayashi Place Legacy of Justice Steering Committee Truths_Batayola_Maria
John de Graaf is a documentary filmmaker and the co-author of Affluenza and What's the Economy For, Anyway? He produced two PBS films about the WWII internment of Japanese-Americans. The first, Visible Target, focused on the evacuation of Bainbridge Island, Washington. The second, A Personal Matter, was the story of Gordon Hirabayashi's fight against the internment and was the inspiration for Jeanne Sakata's play Hold These Truths. John has produced 40 documentaries and received more than 100 regional, national and international filmmaking awards. He is the president of the non-profit Take Back Your Time and lives in Seattle. Truths_deGraaf_John

Daniel Ichinaga is the managing member and chair of the business section at Ellis, Li & McKinstry PLLC, a law firm in Seattle, Washington. He's been in practice for over 30 years. As a young attourney, Daniel had the honor and privilege of serving with many others on the legal team for Gordon Hirabayashi in the case and appeal that overturned Gordon's infamous convictions for opposing the wartime curfews and evacuation orders imposed on Japanese Americans located on the West Coast. Daniel's parents, grandparents, and aunts and uncles were evacuated to camps in Utah, Arkansas, and Arizona.

Tom Ikeda is the founding Executive Director of Densho. He is a sansei (third generation Japanese American) who was born and raised in Seattle. Tom's parents and grandparents were incarcerated during World War II at Minidoka, Idaho. In addition to leading the organization over the past 19 years, Tom has conducted over 220 video-recorded, oral history interviews with Japanese Americans. Tom Ikeda
Tetsuden Kashima, born in Oakland, California, was quickly incarcerated in the Topaz (Utah) WRA concentration camp. Tetsu’s B.A. is from the UC, Berkeley, Psychology, and Ph. D. from UC San Diego, Sociology. In 1976 Tetsu came to the University of Washington and is a Professor, Department of American Ethnic Studies and Adjunct Professor, Department of Sociology. He was a Visiting Professor at Ryukoku University, Kyoto, and Yamaguchi National University, Japan. He has published numerous articles and authored Buddhism in America: The Social Organization of an Ethnic Religious Institution (1977) and Judgment without Trial: Japanese American Imprisonment during World War II (2003).   Truths_Kashima_Tetsuden
Michael Leong received his B.A. in Political Science from the University of California, Berkeley and his J.D. from the University of Washington School of Law. He is currently Senior Vice President of Corporate and Legal Affairs at Sea Mar Community Health Center. He was a member of the pro bono legal team representing Gordon Hirabayashi pursuing the coram nobis petition. Truths_Leong_Michael
Steve Sumida teaches courses in Asian/Pacific American and multicultural American literature at the University of Washington. Like other panelists in this ACT series of talk-backs, he is a friend of Gordon Hirabayashi and members of Gordon's family. As an actor, currently on stage in Genny Lim's play, Paper Angels, in Seattle, and as an instructor of Asian American theatre, Steve views Hold These Truths through lenses of history, theatre arts, and personal memories of Gordon and his sayings. Stephen Sumida Headshot 

Gordon Kiyoshi Hirabayashi (1918-2012)

Gordon Hirabayashi was an American sociologist best known for his resistance to the Japanese-American internment during World War II. He was one of only three people to openly defy it. In 1942, he turned himself in to the FBI, and after being convicted for curfew violation, he was sentenced to 90 days in prison. The verdict was appealed all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, in the case Hirabayashi v. United States (1943). The court unanimously ruled against him. Hirabayashi later spent a year in federal prison. He contended that a questionnaire sent to Japanese Americans, demanding renunciation of allegiance to the Japanese emperor was discriminatory and refused to be inducted into the U.S. armed forces.

After the war, Hirabayashi went on to earn a B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Washington. He taught in Beirut, Cairo, and at the University of Alberta, where he served as chair of the sociology department until 1975, and continued to teach until his retirement in 1983.
In 1987, the U.S. Court of Appeals Ninth Circuit overturned Hirabayashi’s 1943 conviction, after documents were uncovered that clearly showed evidence of government misconduct in 1942—evidence that the government knew there was no military reason for the exclusion order, and withheld that information from the U.S. Supreme Court.

“It was quite a strong victory—so strong that the other side did not appeal,” says Hirabayashi. “It was a vindication of all the effort people had put in for the rights of citizens during crisis periods.”

In 2012, President Barack Obama posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Hirabayashi for his principled stand against Japanese-American internment.
Gordon Hirabayashi


Further reading on the Incarceration, Seattle’s Japanese Americans, and Gordon K. Hirabyashi

Gordon K. Hirabayashi (2013). A Principled Stand: The Story of Hirabayashi V. United States (University of Washington Press). Posthumously published memoir based on Gordon K. Hirabayashi’s diaries and other papers compiled by James A. Hirabayashi and Lane Ryo Hirabayashi.

Peter Irons (1993). Justice at War: The Story of the Japanese-American Internment Cases (University of California Press). Historical account by Peter Irons about the revelation of new information about the World War II era cases of Gordon K. Hirabayashi and others.

Jeffery F. Burton, Mary M. Farrell, Florence B. Lord & Richard W. Lord (2002). Confinement and Ethnicity: an Overview of World War II Japanese American Relocation Sites (University of Washington Press). Based on archival research, field visits, and interviews with former residents, Confinement and Ethnicity provides an overview of what remains at the various sites, including McNeil Island, Minidoka, Catalina Federal Honor Camp (now the Gordon Hirabayashi Campground in the Coronado National Forest), and Camp Harmony/Puyallup Fairgrounds.

Tetsuden Kashima (2004). Judgment Without Trial: Japanese American Imprisonment During World War II (University of Washington Press). Informative, comprehensive coverage of many issues related to the incarceration.

Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians. (1997). Personal Justice Denied: Report of the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians. (University of Washington Press). Based on the findings of a 1980 commission (established by an Act of Congress).

Roger Daniels (2013). The Japanese American Cases: The Rule of Law in Time of War (University of Kansas Press). Coverage of the four legal challenges to the incarceration, including Gordon Hirabayashi’s case.

Teresa Tamura (2013). Minidoka: An American Concentration Camp. (Caxton Press). Photographs and stories of families who were incarcerated in Minidoka.

Monica Sone (2014). Nisei Daughter (University of Washington Press). Reissue of a classic memoir by a Seattle Japanese American. Nisei Daughter is one volume of UW Press’ “Classics of Asian American Literature” series, which also includes No No Boy, Citizen 13660, Desert Exile, Yokohama, California, and other books.

These are just a few of the many excellent books which have been written on the Incarceration and which are available at bookstores and libraries in our community.

Other resources: “Denshō’s mission is to preserve the testimonies of Japanese Americans who were unjustly incarcerated during World War II before their memories are extinguished. We offer these irreplaceable firsthand accounts, coupled with historical images and teacher resources, to explore principles of democracy, and promote equal justice for all.” is a great source of information, photographs, videotaped oral histories, curricula, and much more.