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“Hold These Truths” Is Mesmerizing and Multidimensional

Joel de la Fuente stars as Gordon Hirabayashi in "Hold These Truths" (photo by Lia Chang)

Joel de la Fuente stars as Gordon Hirabayashi in “Hold These Truths” (photo by Lia Chang)

Gordon Hirabayashi is not a name that most people have ever heard of, but, behind that name lies an incredible story. Hirabayashi was a Japanese American who, in the midst of World War II, was ordered to report to an interment camp. In the most American of ways possible, Hirabayashi refused, writing a letter of protest. His refusal to report to camp and his disobedience to the Japanese “curfew law” put in place by the government at the time landed him in jail in 1943, where he appealed the charges against him and refused to back down.

Right now, those familiar with Hirabayashi or those new to the story can experience it as part of the PRC2 series at PlayMakers. Jeanne Sakata’s beautifully written one-man play, Hold These Truths, is fully realized with direction from Lisa Rothe and a powerful performance from Joel de la Fuente.

Onstage, de la Fuente proves chameleon-like, effortlessly and believably going from one character to the next. He is first a young Gordon, then his mother, his father, and a host of local law enforcement officers. He even takes a turn as Gordon’s bride-to-be, and no matter which character her adapts, the audience believes in that character fully. In fact, once the curtain closes on this lyrically mesmerizing show, it’s hard to believe that only one actor has been onstage the entire time. de la Fuente’s characterizations are just that believable. Using only a few chairs and some simple lighting, the production relies almost entirely on the actor’s skill as a storyteller, and fortunately, he delivers.

Joel de la Fuente. photo
Of course, de la Fuente couldn’t do it all on his own. The threads of Rothe’s character-driven direction are visible, and of course, making everything possible is Sakata’s lovely, lilting script. She manages to weave a tapestry of experience that is at times funny, at times uplifting, and sometimes, just tremendously sad and shocking.

Audience members are invited to join in on a post-show discussion following the performance, and doing so is definitely worth it. Hearing the voices of this creative team and how it managed to blend fact and fiction to bring Gordon’s incredible story to the stage adds new dimensions to an already multidimensional production.

PlayMakers Repertory Company presents HOLD THESE TRUTHS at 7:30 p.m. April 25, 2 and 7:30 p.m. April 26, and 2 p.m. April 27 in the Elizabeth Price Kenan Theatre in the Center for Dramatic Art, 150 Country Club Rd., Chapel Hill, NC 27514, on the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill campus.

TICKETS: $15 and up, except $10 UNC students and $12 other college students and discounts for UNC faculty and staff and U.S. military personnel.

BOX OFFICE: 919-962-PLAY,, or

GROUP RATES (15+ tickets): 919-843-2311,, or

SHOW: and

VIDEO PREVIEWS (from the Off-Broadway production):



BLOG: PlayMakers Page to Stage:


NOTE: There will be a post-show discussion with the artists and other subject-matter experts following each performance.


Gordon Hirabayashi (American sociologist, 1918-2012): (Densho Encyclopedia) and (Wikipedia).

Hold These Truths (2007 biographical drama) (official website).

Jeanne Sakata (Los Angeles playwright): (official website), (Facebook page), (Twitter page), and (Wikipedia).

Lisa Rothe (New York, NY director): (official website), (Facebook page), and (Twitter page).

Joel de la Fuente (Hemlock Grove, PA actor): (official website), (Facebook page), (Twitter page), and (Wikipedia).


Susie Potter is a Raleigh, NC-based freelance writer and editor. She is a 2009 graduate of Raleigh’s Meredith College, where she majored in English. She holds graduate degrees in teaching and American literature from North Carolina State University in Raleigh. In addition to her work for Triangle Arts and Entertainment, she is an award-winning author of short fiction. Her works have appeared in The Colton Review, Raleigh Quarterly, Broken Plate Magazine, Big Muddy: A Journal of the Mississippi River Valley, the Chaffey Review, and Existere. To read all of Susie Potter’s Triangle Arts and Entertainment articles and reviews, click To read more of her writings, click and

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