In 1942, Gordon Hirabayashi, an American of Japanese heritage, stood on principle and defied a U.S. government order to “sign up” for a wartime internment camp. His case would go all the way to the Supreme Court.
Hirabayashi’s remarkable story comes to life in the San Diego Repertory Theatre’s staging of Jeanne Sakata’s “Hold These Truths.” The one-person show stars Ryun Yu, who during the course of 90 minutes portrays Hirabayashi throughout the years of his fight against racial discrimination and for justice. Yu also plays others who factored in: his friends, his family, his prosecutors, his legal team. Yu’s is an affecting, dignified performance that transcends “legal case.” The marginalization, mistreatment and even imprisonment of men, women and children because of their race and color is tragically not a thing of the past.
Jessica Kubzansky directs “Hold These Truths” at the Rep, where well-timed sound effects (designed by John Zalewski) foster the illusion that Yu is not alone and that history, of a shameful kind, is unfolding around him.
(Review originally published in San Diego CityBeat on 12/4/19.)
David L. Coddon is a Southern California theater critic.