Actor Joel De La Fuente of Hit Amazon TV Series The Man in the High Castle to Star in Story of One Man's Historic and Heroic Fight Against Internment of Japanese Americans During World War II
Heritage Theatre Festival announced today that the final show of the upcoming 2020 season will be Hold These Truths, a powerful one-person play about one brave Japanese-American’s decades-long battle against curfews and internment to a relocation camp during World War II. The show will be performed by noted actor Joel de la Fuente of the hit Amazon TV series The Man in the High Castle.
Hold These Truths, directed by Lisa Rothe, will run from July 30 through August 9 in the Helms Theatre. Opening night will be July 31.
Hold These Truths, written by Jeanne Sakata, tells the inspiring true story of Gordon Hirabayashi, chronicling his brave fight against internment to a relocation camp during WWII and spanning his journey from college to the Supreme Court and ultimately, a Congressional Medal of Honor. While this story of a man defending his Constitutional rights against the very country who afforded them takes on a new relevance in today’s America, Hold These Truths is ultimately a tale of hope and an exploration not just of who we are as a country but who we aspire to be. The play will also serve, as did The Mountaintop (2018) and The Niceties (2019) as a springboard for HTF’s popular Community Conversations series, which invites audience members to engage in meaningful post-show discussions around the themes of the play with cast members as well as community leaders and academic and cultural experts.
Part of the power, and the importance of the piece, de la Fuente said, is the opportunity to share a remarkable and patriotic American story that has somehow remained below the radar for many. “The first time I had ever heard of Gordon Hirabayashi was when I read the play,” he said. “And this is coming from someone who was deeply involved in Asian American studies in college.” Hirabayashi, he shared, was in many ways a reluctant activist, a simple Quaker American citizen who held tenaciously to his conscience and his beliefs, and to the ideals set forth in the Constitution of the United States. “The curfew and the internment seemed to him very obvious examples of violations of the Constitution, and so in good conscience he could not adhere to them.”
The experience of working with the piece, which was first presented as a reading at New York’s Lark Play Development Center in 2009, through the seismic changes along the American and global political landscapes since that time has been remarkable, Rothe said. “In the early days of this show, there was this small sense of, ‘OK, we don’t want history to repeat itself, but this is a nice little story we can place on a shelf because we have moved past this.’” Since that time, she said, the show has been presented against the backdrop of a Muslim ban, the border wall and family separations, and the events right here in Charlottesville.
“I think it is important to tell a story like this in Charlottesville,” de la Fuente said, “a place where our eyes have been turned for the past several years with great interest, and concern, and care. I think that so much of the country has come to regard ‘Charlottesville’ as a catch-phrase that brings to mind all of these different reactions. Part of my excitement about bringing this show there is to spend time there and learn more about what Charlottesville is all about, to participate in life there, to meet and talk to the people, because that is the lesson in all of this. There is this bifurcation in our post 2016-world of us versus them, or GOP versus Democrat. It is an uphill battle, but we have to find the ways in which we have commonality, the ways in which we can get past our heads and into our feelings to find what brings us together. I think, in many ways, that is the overriding message of this show.”
The show, Rothe said, has inspired important conversations everywhere it has been. “Being engaged in conversations with each other is so important. We are inured to the internet and our screens and getting out and speaking to people one-on-one and engaging in communities is extraordinarily important and allows us to see each other’s differences as well as our similarities.”
Hold These Truths is sponsored by UVA Arts: supported by the Office of the Provost & the Vice Provost for the Arts as well as the University of Virginia College and Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Directors of Diversity and Inclusion.
The 2020 Heritage season will kick off with the all-time classic musical Guys & Dolls, opening June 26 at the Culbreth Theatre. The season will also include Zacarias’s The Book Club Play, a 21st Century drawing room comedy about what happens when a book club goes hilariously wrong; and Noel Coward’s beloved comedy Blithe Spirit.
Heritage Theatre Festival’s 2019 season subscribers will receive information on how to renew their subscriptions for the 46th Anniversary season in March. New subscription sales will also begin in March and single tickets will go on sale on June 3, 2020.
For more information on the upcoming 2020 Heritage Theatre Festival season and how you can support Heritage’s efforts, visit www.heritagetheatrefestival.org.