HomeJapanese AmericanHold These Truths, story of Gordon Hirabayashi now streaming

Hold These Truths, story of Gordon Hirabayashi now streaming

By Louis Chan, AsAmNews National Correspondent

Hold These Truths, a play by Jeanne Sakata and based on the life of civil rights icon Gordon Hirabayashi officially opens tonight at Union Square theatre. The San Francisco Playhouse production marks the return to live performances in San Francisco.

The play can also be experienced through streaming on demand during the entire run of the performance and is available for viewing throughout the United States.

Gordon Hirabayashi. Photo from Wing Luke Museum

Jomar Tagatac brings the story to life as Hirabayashi in this story about a Japanese American who dared to challenge curfew orders requiring persons of Japanese descent to be home by 8 p.m. and remain there until 6 a.m. during the height of anti-Japanese hysteria during WWII.

Hirabayashi decided that instead of returning home by the ordered time, he would remain in the library to study with his White friends.

AsAmNews saw the play in person at the 2nd of four preview shows earlier this week.

Tagatac brings extra energy to his performance when he holds conversations and takes on the personas of his family, girlfriend and federal authorities in this one man performance.

Production Photography by Jessica Palopoli:

While never seen, one can feel the impact of Hirabayashi’s defiance on the others in his life. Tagatac does an excellent job projecting their angst, objection and pain to the theatre audience. It made me yearn for more from the family and those around Hirabayashi. Perhaps that’s the basis of another play at another time.

Courtesy Jean Sakata

The script by Sakata builds up to Hirabayashi’s monumental decision to not cooperate with incarceration orders under the backdrop of him meeting his soon to be White wife, Esther Schmoe. The play hints early that he is not one to hold to societal norms despite wide objections to interracial dating.

The story also establishes that racism against Japanese Americans did not suddenly appear with the bombing of Pearl Harbor, but had its undercurrents much earlier than that.

The use of multi-media by director Jeffrey Lo, while subtle, adds to the enjoyment of the production on an otherwise very simple stage design.

The play loses some of its energy when Tagatac pontificates about the constitution. While necessary, that may have been better conveyed with the use of symbolism.

The story is a much needed history lesson during this time of racial disharmony. Hold These Truths is set to run through July 3. Tickets for both the live performances and video on demand can be purchased here or by calling 415-677-9596.

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