Hold These Truths shines a light on quiet hero Gordon Hirabayashi
In 1942, 24-year-old Gordon Hirabayashi turned himself into the FBI, announcing that not only was he not honouring the curfew imposed on all Americans of Japanese descent, he would refuse to be sent to an internment camp. Arguing that the wartime policies violated his constitutional rights as an American citizen, he offered himself up to the authorities as a test case.
Indicted on May 28, 1942 and arraigned on June 1 for violating Public Law No. 505, which made violating Civilian Exclusion Order No. 57 and curfew a federal crime, Hirabayashi entered a plea of “not guilty” on the basis that both the exclusion law and curfew were racially prejudiced and unconstitutional.
As he expected, he lost the case and was sentenced to 60 days in jail. When Hirabayashi requested that he serve out his term in a road camp instead, the judge told him that he could, but only if the sentence was increased to 90 days. Hirabayashi agreed, and because they could not provide transportation, said he would get there himself.
He then spent several weeks hitchhiking from Spokane, through Idaho, where he visited his parents, through Salt Lake City, Utah, until he reached Tucson Federal Prison, also known as the Catalina Federal Honor Camp.
While serving his time in Tucson, Hirabayashi got to know a number of other wartime federal prisoners including Hopi draft resisters, Jehovah’s Witnesses, conscientious objectors, immigration violators, bank robbers, and those convicted of selling liquor to Native Americans. Hirabayashi later called his time in Tucson “truly inspiring.”
Prior to the war, Hirabayashi had registered with the Selective Service as a conscientious objector and joined the Religious Society of Friends, the Quakers. Following Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor, he quit school and volunteered with the American Friends Service Committee to assist families by arranging for storage of their belongings prior to their incarceration. His time in Tucson only served to reinforce his Christian pacifist beliefs as well as his belief in the US Constitution.
After his return to Spokane, Hirabayashi once again ran afoul of the authorities when he refused to fill out the “loyalty” questionnaire, or Selective Service Form 304A. Representing himself, he was sentenced to a year at McNeil Island Penitentiary.
After the war, Hirabayashi continued his education at the University of Washington, going on to teach in Beirut, Lebanon, and Cairo, Egypt before joining the faculty at the University of Alberta in 1959. Shortly after retiring in 1983, Hirabayashi received a call asking him to allow a team of lawyers to re-open his wartime conviction on the basis of governmental misconduct. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favour of Hirabayashi’s coram nobis case, vacating his personal conviction in 1987.
Gordon Hirabayashi’s civil disobedience during World War II elevated him to a prominent place in American civil rights history. In 1999, the Coronado National Forest renamed the site where the Tucson Federal Prison once stood in his honour. In May of 2012, shortly after his death at the age of 93, he was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honour award, by President Obama.
In 2007, inspired by Hirabayashi’s story, Japanese American actress Jeanne Sakata wrote her first play, Dawn’s Light: The Journey of Gordon Hirabayashi, which premiered at East West Players in Los Angeles. Later re-titled Hold These Truths, the play has been in production ever since, with a number of different actors taking on the role of Hirabayashi. From October 18 to November 2, Hold These Truths will make its international debut at The Cultch Historic Theatre with actor Joel de la Fuente in the starring role. The Vancouver production was instigated and produced by another Japanese American actress, Tamlyn Tomita, who has been living in Vancouver part time while working on two TV series, The Man in the High Castle and The Good Doctor.
With material sourced from the Densho Encyclopedia.
I spoke with Tamlyn Tomita, Jeanne Sakata and Joel de la Fuente by email.
Hold These Truths
October 18 – November 2, 2019
The Cultch Historic Theatre
Friday October 18 8pm Preview – all tickets $25
Sunday October 20 2pm Preview – all tickets $25
Sunday October 20 OPENING NIGHT 8pm
October 22 – 25 Tuesday to Friday 8pm
October 26 – 27 Saturday and Sunday 2pm & 8pm
October 29 – November 1 Tuesday to Friday 8pm
November 2 Saturday 2pm & 8pm
Tickets and Info: thecultch.com
Tamlyn Tomita | Jeanne Sakata | Joel de la Fuente
Gordon Hirabayashi, was one of many quiet heroes of which there are so many in the Japanese American and Japanese communities, yet not many of them end up being awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. What was it about Gordon and what he did back in 1942 that resonates so deeply with so many?
Jeanne I have been deeply moved at the response across the country to this story, and I can only guess at the answer, but I like to think that it is first because of Gordon himself, who seems to fascinate audiences just as much as he fascinated me when I first discovered his story. When I began researching him, his personality just shone through the letters that he wrote as a college student during WWII, letters that were a major source of inspiration to me in writing the play. He had a wonderfully engaging, everyman quality that audiences easily identify with, a keen intellect, a zest for adventure and a great sense of humor. He seemed like an ordinary person in so many ways – the guy who could have sat next to you in math class – and yet so extraordinary in his vision and his courage at such a young age.
And I think his life story resonates deeply with many because he didn’t start out as a rebel – quite the opposite. He had, for most of his life, tolerated his second-class status in a racist society, and during WWII, was fully intending to go along with the government’s forced removal orders. But after being thrust into these extraordinary circumstances, he very gradually came to the point where that second-class status became unbearable to him. He finally realized he had no choice but to defy and challenge the government, no matter what happened to him. It’s really a classic story of gradual spiritual enlightenment, and I think one we can all relate to.
I also think that people are amazed to discover the story itself. Even though President Obama posthumously awarded Gordon the Medal of Freedom in 2012, his name is still unfamiliar to many Americans, as he has been neglected in our history books. But his is a vital, timeless, and quintessentially American story, one which speaks very powerfully to our current times, with a lot of unpredictable twists and turns that I could never have invented. It’s full of highs and lows, both tragedy and humor.
Tamlyn Gordon Hirabayashi was one of those “Quiet Americans” that folks south of the Canadian border admire and emulate; I think it was this quiet tenacity in his almost ridiculous sense of doing what is right that Joel de la Fuente brings to Jeanne Sakata’s script that shines a light on this civil rights and human rights North American hero. What he did in the face of America’s unjust actions against Japanese Americans, most of them citizens, was extraordinary. Would anyone of us turn ourselves in if America demanded our imprisonment? And this is exactly what he did.
Joel For me, Gordon is a wonderful example of what a single person can do in the face of something that appears to be so much bigger than him/herself. He never thought of himself as an activist. He was exercising the rights he believed all Americans possessed, and by following his simple truths fully, he had an extraordinary journey that made a real impact.
Today’s political climate can make me feel overwhelmed and powerless. Gordon’s story tells me that one’s individual choices can make a huge difference.
Our communities today are very much shaped by the wartime injustices that out grandparents and great-grandparents suffered, and by the wholesale targeting of those communities by our governments. I don’t know if your individual families were impacted by the internment, but maybe you can speak about how your families and/or communities were touched by the wartime years . . .
Tamlyn My family on my father’s side were imprisoned at Manzanar; my great-grandparents were at Heart Mountain. My uncles, aunt, and father all discussed passionately the movement towards Redress and Reparations, my grandfather had passed in 1973, and my grandmother has never uttered a word about it. Us kids did not hear of the concentration/prison/incarceration/internment/relocation camps until we all read that one paragraph in our US history books in middle school and I ran home to ask my father when he got home, and he simply answered, yes. So many feelings went through me when I heard his affirmation and it still affects me and our communities to this day. We hear of terms such as generational trauma, cultural trauma, and the descendants of America’s concentration camps can still find pieces of its history and its impact in their own families and communities. There’s still work to do – many fight to keep these stories alive to fight against it happening again and to align our communities with others facing injustice.
Knowing a wee, wee bit about the Japanese Canadian internment camps, I was able to explore, through the friendships I developed in Vancouver, the similarities to the American internment camps and was deeply saddened and shocked about the differences. In the summer of 2018, I was able to bring Chay Yew’s play, Question 27, Question 28 to The Nikkei National Museum and Cultural Centre, a play about true accounts from women who endured America’s concentration camps and seeing Yoshie Bancroft’s Japanese Problem at Hastings Park further delineated these stories.
Jeanne My mother’s side of the family was living in a small town in Colorado during World War II, and since Executive Order 9066 was primarily directed toward the West Coast Japanese community, they did not have to go to the camps, although they experienced plenty of hostility and racism where they lived.
My father’s family, however, all lived in Watsonville in California, where my grandfather had persevered through decades of racism anti-Japanese hostility in California to establish a farming and shipping business, and to raise his family. And so when Pearl Harbor was bombed, his assets were immediately frozen and his business operations suspended and he was taken into custody, though later released. The anti-Japanese hostilities began overnight – the contents of an outhouse were dumped on my grandfather’s porch, and “GO HOME JAPS” was scrawled on his window. He hastily made arrangements with friends in the community to take care of his business, and then he and my grandmother, and my dad and aunts and uncles, along with all people of Japanese ancestry in the area, were sent to an assembly center, and then imprisoned in the barbed wire camp in Poston, Arizona. At the time, my dad and aunts and uncles were just young high school students who believed, as American-born citizens, that their rights were protected by the Constitution. So they were shocked to have to leave friends, homes and schools to become prisoners of the government, solely because of their ancestry.
A family friend who was a high school classmate in the 1940s spoke of how eerie and bone-chilling it was to see all the faces of his Japanese American friends in his high school yearbook, and then to see those same faces totally vanish from those pages the following year. And as I was growing up, my father and aunts and uncles never spoke of the experience, I believe, because it was so traumatic and devastating for them. As I got older and learned about the camps and began to ask them questions about those years, they would literally lower their voices, as if they were afraid someone would overhear them, and then quickly change the subject. So it was understood that this was something that was almost forbidden to talk about.
Jeanne, this your first play, I believe. What was it about Gordon’s story that moved you to write it?
Jeanne Yes, this is my first play! I hope there will be more to follow!
I myself am a sansei (third-generation) Japanese American, and so this tragedy and trauma was part of my family history. As I grew up and went to college, and then got involved with Asian American Studies and Asian American theater, I wanted to learn more about what had happened to my family during WWII, but because of my family’s resistance to talking about their experiences, I was having a challenging time.
Then, in the 1990s, I happened to see a documentary video called A Personal Matter: Gordon Hirabayashi vs. the United States, made by John de Graaf. I was shocked that I had never heard this story of defiance and resistance before, and I was fascinated and enthralled. The story just gripped me and wouldn’t let me go, becoming an obsession. I knew I couldn’t rest until I tried to write a play about Gordon. So I started to find out everything I could about him, and I was determined to contact and meet him. As luck would have it, an acting job brought me to Seattle in the ‘90s, where I got Gordon’s phone number from a young student who had just interviewed him for a paper she was writing. So I called him up and told him I would love to meet him and try to write a solo play about him, and would he consent to a series of interviews?
He was very gracious and welcoming, even when I told him I had never written a play before. He invited me to interview him at his brother Ed’s place in Glen Ellen, California, where he was going to be visiting. Then we did another round of interviews in Edmonton [Alberta, Canada], where he was living with his wife Susan. He was such a fascinating storyteller, and those conversations with him filled in a lot of psychic gaps in my own family’s story.
How did you go about researching his story?
Jeanne I did an extensive amount of research at the University of Washington, where Gordon was attending college when Pearl Harbor was bombed. The university has a fantastic collection of resources – newspaper articles, letters, yearbooks, interview transcripts, and so forth – on the Seattle Japanese community of that time. Most helpful to me, though, were the interviews that I did with Gordon myself, as I was able to ask him about the details that most fascinated me. I also interviewed his Quaker attorney friend Arthur Barnett and his wife Virginia, and his college friends Tama Tokuda, Eleanor Ring and her husband Charles. I relied heavily as well on Peter Irons’ book Justice at War, which chronicles the legal challenges of Gordon, Min Yasui, Fred Korematsu, and Mitsue Endo; and most of all, the wonderful letters that Gordon wrote during and after his imprisonment, donated to the university by his friend Eleanor Ring. Those letters helped tremendously in imagining the voice of the younger Gordon, and without them I can’t imagine I could have ever written the play. On a broader scale, I also looked at all kinds of books and videos that related to the World War II Japanese American experience.
There is often talk about the dearth of quality parts for Asian actors – has this been your experience, and if so, is it changing for the better?
Joel I have always found the framing of this type of question to be problematic. There is absolutely a dearth of *opportunity* for Asian American actors, and so much of this stems from the thinking that there are only certain kinds of parts that Asian American actors can play, hence the wording, “quality parts for Asian actors.” Having been born and raised in the United States, my identity is that of an American; and yet, overwhelmingly, characters who are American are not considered the domain of someone who looks like me. Am I only supposed to play people where being Asian is the defining characteristic of the character? The tremendous irony here is that my life experience draws so much more from American culture than from any other. To expect me to only play people who serve a specifically “Asian” or “Asian American” theme sends the message that my racial appearance is the defining criteria for my employment. And this, to me, is ridiculous.
So, to return to your question, over the last thirty years, there has been a tremendous dearth of opportunity for me because all too often all people will consider me for a roles that specifically say “Asian” or “Asian American” after it – which is a disproportionately small number – and even smaller when you only count roles that are essential to serving a given story.
Tamlyn This has been a question asked of me ever since The Karate Kid II – Yes! It is changing for the better and it has always been changing for the better. It can only get better – it is the pace and/or speed of it that drives those of us with visible ethnic heritage crazy! But with the documented success of Crazy Rich Asians and The Farewell, Kim’s Convenience and the brilliant Sandra Oh, the audiences watching can actually see it happening, not just those of us in the film/TV industry. Our faces on the screen can make film/TV studios money! Our world is expanding, stories are being distributed among various platforms and people are watching! And we’re able to see people with Asian faces just as people who just happen to be Asian! We are able to see faces of all colors, with bodies of all shapes and sizes, and speaking with all kinds of accents as fully rounded human beings. The change has been happening slowly, but it does seems to have been picking up a lot of speed as of late – I’d just like to be around where I don’t have to use the phrase #representationmatters, because everyone will be represented.
Jeanne In the early stage of my acting career, this was very much the case. API actors were historically very limited in what we were allowed to play, and the theater where I first started out, East West Players, was founded by a small group of API actors who wanted to fight those limitations and do Shakespeare, Chekhov, American musical theatre classics as well as Asian American plays.
We have made a LOT of progress due to the determined efforts of advocates in our community over the years, and there are reasons to be encouraged. There are more Asian American TV series regulars than ever before, more indie filmmakers and screenwriters, directors and producers onstage and onscreen who are doing stellar work. There are amazing Asian American playwrights who are in the spotlight now and who are getting regularly produced at our country’s leading regional theaters. And the recent commercial success of Crazy Rich Asians has broken down some barriers for us.
But we are still battling the practice of “whitewashing” – where a role that is Asian or Asian American in its original source material is turned into a white character for a play, TV or film. Or just as frustrating, when an Asian character is just blatantly played by a white actor. Or when a non-API writer has not done that homework and has written an Asian character in a lazy, overgeneralized, stereotypical way. So yes, it is an ongoing battle.
Joel, you served one year as Artistic Associate for the National Asian American Theatre Company. On their website, there’s a statement: “The superimposition of our Asian faces on a non-Asian repertory, interpreted by artists using diverse and truly universal references to serve the text very faithfully, reflects and emphasizes the kinship among disparate cultures. We do not say we are all the same, we say that we have quite large areas of understanding. We also say that affirmations of timeless values and new insights about old works can come from unexpected faces.” How does this paragraph resonate with your own experience as an actor?
Joel The primary purpose of NAATCO, as I understood it, certainly as I entered the professional marketplace thirty years ago, was to give Asian American actors the opportunity of working on some of the great, seminal works of Western theater. The best way of learning and improving is by working on the best material, and a lot of this material had either been historically denied to Asian American actors or had employed them using their Asian-ness as some kind of reason for being in the play to begin with (A Macbeth that takes place in a world of samurai, for example). NAATCO gave actors who were Asian American the opportunity to learn their craft using challenging, remarkable plays and allowed us to not have our race be the primary focus of our process as artists. The purpose is never to ignore our race (how can one?); but it puts race as only one adjective of so many more that comprise who we are as people, as citizens, as storytellers.
You yourself are of Filipino, Chinese and Malaysian ancestry, which makes you, I suppose somewhat of a cultural chameleon. You’ve also played characters with names like Takeshi Kido and Ruben Morales, and of course, Gordon Hirabayashi. Is there a special responsibility, do you think, to find an cultural authenticity within each role – to go beyond just being a “generic” Asian or person of colour?
Joel My passion for acting is rooted in transformation. To me, there is something sacred about an artist transforming herself to tell a story to her community. And with that process, comes responsibility and a relentless pursuit to be as specific as possible in as many aspects of the character as possible. At the same time, I am not trying to get something “right.” This is not an academic test. We are not trying to play roles that are simply “positive” or “good” or “non-stereotypical.” We are trying to serve a story by creating people who are truthful – and that means playing roles that are complicated, contradictory, and sometimes unsettling.
I think if we listened to the industry that has cast us, we could run the risk of being a “generic” Asian person of color, because so often that has historically been the primary reason actors of Asian ancestry got opportunities in the first place: the powers-that-be are making race be the criteria for why someone is in a story rather than character. But just because they are not interested in specificity doesn’t mean that you don’t have to be. Always do what you can within the parameters you are given to have an acting process.
Jeanne For me, these questions are always connected to the social and cultural context of the casting, and the specific requirements of the role. What message will the casting send to the communities who are watching? What higher good can be achieved, or diminished by this casting? I think there are cases where the cultural specifics of our times, the social circumstances, the requirements of the role may be best served by ethnically specific casting. But just as importantly, and in the vast majority of cases, I feel an Asian role should definitely NOT be limited to only actors of that specific ethnicity if the actor has the skills to convincingly portray that character.
In the case of HTT, Gordon is a nisei, or second-generation Japanese American. He does not have a Japanese accent, he identifies fully as an American, and yearns to be accepted as one. And so, in my view, any well-qualifed Asian American actor who can meet the demands of the role can play him. Really, the greater requirement is that the actor playing Gordon is virtuosic and versatile enough that he can play 37 different characters, have the dramatic and technical skills to command the stage for 90 minutes all by himself, and have the passion, heart and soul to bring Gordon vibrantly alive for the audience.
Tamlyn If the ethnicity or cultural heritage is germane to the character, I feel it is absolutely the responsibility of the actor to present that authenticity to the role. I’ve seen so many of my fellow actors of color tackle and try to present with cultural authenticity all aspects of their character, and yet some who do not. I think the audience can tell. I have heard so many stories of how meticulous Joel is with his character of “Inspector Kido” on The Man in the High Castle (I never got to work with him!) I have worked with Cary Hiroyuki-Tagawa as “Minister Tagomi” and worked out specific details as to how to draw Japanese characters of a specific time period in a specific set of circumstances veering away from ‘generic-ness’ to make these specific characters come alive – how fun and incredibly rewarding it was! But what we really focus in on is the relationship we have from one character to another; or rather, as we act as one human being relating to another human being whom we love, whom we hate, whom we would like to know, whom we work with, whom we share a child/parent/family/friend with, it’s really all about the human emotions we all feel as people and if we are lucky to ‘colour’ these characters with cultural specificity, that’s not a responsibility, that is a fun and exciting set of colours to paint with!
I’m sure there are varying degrees of sensitivity on the part of directors and casting agents when it comes to dealing with characters of colour. Do you find that you have to fight to portray characters in a way that honours their particular culture, whether it’s Chinese, Japanese, Filipino, or what-have-you, or is that something that’s no longer an issue?
Tamlyn I think I partly answered this question above, but it can sometimes be a ‘fight to portray characters in a way that honors their particular culture…’ because of the word ‘honor’. What does that really mean? To justify behavior that might be different than our Western thinking and enlighten/educate the audience? That’s a lot to lay on the shoulders of not only the actor, but the writer and director as well. Is it, or rather, should it be the story creator’s responsibility to correctly portray a culture? Or just to simply tell a good story, which usually means a human story that supersedes all cultural boundaries? It is sometimes a fight between artistic collaborators to portray characters because we want to tell the story truthfully and honestly as possible and yes, sometimes it does means it has to portray the culture more importantly than honorably, but correctly. It can sometimes be an issue, because we still have to deal with generations/years of stories told through incorrect lenses where mother countries were seen as exotic, mysterious, foreign, romanticized, primitive, etc., places and that people whose forefathers/foremothers came from those places are still seen through those lenses.
Jeanne It’s still very much an issue and an ongoing battle!
I myself feel fortunate in that in roles I have been asked to play onstage and onscreen, my input has almost always been welcomed and incorporated. Many times, if a writer who is not from an Asian or Asian American background has written a script, even though he or she may have done their homework, there may be culturally specific things that an API actor can suggest from his or her own life experience that will help enhance and deepen the character or story, and not only make it more realistic, but more moving and powerful. And because we have been historically so underrepresented and stereotyped and marginalized in the entertainment industry, I am grateful for those who speak out so powerfully about these issues. We all have a responsibility to do the same.
It’s interesting that the writer, producer, and director of Hold These Truths are women, yet the story is about a Japanese American man. It kind of flips the script around (so-to-speak). I wouldn’t be inclined to read too much into that, but any thoughts about that?
Tamlyn Women hold up half the sky and get the job done!
Jeanne Women are vastly underrepresented in the American theatre, as well as in the TV and film industry, and so I am proud and thrilled that HTT has been brought alive by so many brilliant women over the last 12 years – directors, designers, producers, artistic directors. Though Gordon is a male character, I do feel his story transcends age and gender in that it addresses many obstacles that many marginalized Americans have historically faced, whether male or female. So many women of all ages and ethniticies and backgrounds and sexual orientations have been excited and inspired by Gordon’s story, and that has been deeply gratifying to me.
Tamlyn, you’re not only producing the Vancouver production of Hold These Truths, I understand you’re pretty much single-handedly making it happen. Tell me how this all come to be?
Tamlyn It is because of the grace of Gordon Hirabayashi. Jeanne Sakata wrote this play years ago and I have been a fan of it from its first production and subsequent productions and knowing about this man, I’ve always believed he was a true American/North American hero. Fast forward years later, I was blessed in be guest-starring in The Man in the High Castle. Months later, I became a series cast member of The Good Doctor. Both shows shoot in beautiful Vancouver, BC, Canada!
Joel de la Fuente was entering season three of The Man in the High Castle and loved Vancouver and its people. The Good Doctor is executive produced by Daniel Dae Kim and both of these two gentlemen are the best of friends and we three have known and respected each other for some time. I had an opportunity to see Hold These Truths with Joel and I was absolutely blown away: it was an example of when a particular actor with a certain set of skills elevates the show to a higher level. I was always amazed at the play, but I was awestruck at this iteration. I asked Jeanne and Joel what its history was in playing around the country. Near the end of season two working on The Good Doctor, Lisa Rothe was what we call ‘shadowing’ the director on a particular episode and Daniel Dae Kim introduced us to one another. Daniel mentioned that Lisa was the director of the version of Hold These Truths that Daniel had brought to Hawaii benefitting the Honolulu Theatre for Youth with Joel de la Fuente!
In the time I have worked on The Good Doctor in Vancouver, I have made rather fond connections with the Nikkei National Museum and Cultural Centre’s Sherri Kajiwara and the University of British Columbia’s Asian Canadian and Asian Migration program folks Christopher Lee, JP Catungal, and Wendy Yip-Ono who informed me that Gordon Hirabayashi’s son, Jay, runs the Vancouver International Dance Festival and Kokoro Dance Theatre Society, and his grandson, Jo, is a musician who sometimes plays with Jay.
Hold These Truths had to be done in Vancouver! All the signs were leading the way! Jeanne, Joel, Daniel, Lisa, the Nikkei National Museum, UBC’s ACAM program and Kokoro Dance Theatre Society all fell in line, in that order. I was just lucky to tie all these wonderful pieces together! This was going to be some kind of ride as I have never produced anything before and thought, well, we’ll just figure it out along the way. The Canadian Actors’ Equity Association has been so very helpful in guiding the bringing in of an American play with an American cast & crew to a Canadian playhouse, the wonderful Cultch Historic Theatre and donning a producer’s hat has been most extraordinary!
This production is benefiting a number of organizations – tell me about the decision to direct the proceeds to the community.
Tamlyn Benefitting these three organizations came out of our (me and my fiancé, Daniel Blinkoff’s) desire through The Umami Fund, our charitable fund, to support works that are ‘savory’ and to be savored, to bring attention and support their missions that we believe in: in taking the ‘kokoro’ – heart, soul, and spirit – the honoring, preserving of sharing of stories and cross-cultural/intercultural exploration of Japanese-North Americans and Asian Canadians in making not only Canada, but the world, a more understood and better place. Being also inspired by Daniel Dae Kim’s act of benefitting Honolulu’s Theatre for Youth, we were led to bring this extraordinary production to Vancouver and to share this wonderfully brave, intellectually curious, and warmly funny portrait of a man who fought for the human rights of so many.
Finally . . . I haven’t seen The Terror, season two yet (I just finished season one), I’m curious about your take on it – have you seen it? – any thoughts?
Jeanne I think the The Terror is a great milestone for the way the WWII Japanese American experience has been portrayed onscreen, and I think that is largely due to the fact that there are so many APA artists who care deeply about this project and have worked very hard on its research and creation – showrunner Alexander Woo, story editor Naomi Iizuka, actor George Takei, who also worked as a consultant for the project, and so many more. The cast is terrific, the production values are superb, and the amount of detail given to the story and its historical settings has just been wonderful. It’s been a very powerful experience, watching it.
Anything you would like to add?
Jeanne Just that I am deeply grateful to Tamlyn and Daniel Blinkoff for making this Vancouver run possible. It has been a dream of mine to bring the show to Vancouver, but they are making it a reality! One of my very favorite books is Obasan by Japanese Canadian poet and author Joy Kogawa, and Gordon Hirabayashi spent most of his life raising his family and teaching at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, so we are thrilled to be making our international debut in Canada.