Justin’s Japan: ‘Hold These Truths’ Honors Freedom

Click image to read story

By JQ magazine editor Justin Tedaldi (CIR Kobe-shi, 2001-02) for Shukan NY Seikatsu. Visit his Examiner.com Japanese culture page here for related stories.

The opening of playwright Jeanne Sakata’s Hold These Truths begins with the famous United States Declaration of Independence quote that all men are created equal, followed by the Japanese proverb “the nail that sticks up gets hammered down.” The one hammered down is Gordon Kioyoshi Hirabayashi, the late American pacifist and Presidential Medal of Freedom honoree whose experiences in World War II-era America are brought vividly to life by Joel de la Fuente in this one-man show now running Off-Broadway.

“From the day rehearsing began for our premiere in November 2007, we’ve been working to make Hold These Truths a better play, and that hasn’t stopped with our New York premiere,” said Sakata, who shaped it through extensive interviews with Hirabayashi. The play has received positive reviews from The New Yorker and the Associated Press, and has brought wider attention to a traumatic time in American history.

Born in Seattle in 1918, Hirabayashi was imprisoned in 1942 for protesting wartime curfews. He lost a U.S. Supreme Court case the following year, but the verdict was later overturned in the 1980s, triggering an apology and reparations to the families of the more than 100,000 people interned in the western United States during the war.

Hold These Truths runs through Nov. 25 at the Theater at the 14th Street Y. For more information, visit http://epictheatreensemble.org/holdthesetruths.