America: land of the free — unless in a time of war.
PlayMakers Repertory Company will chronicle one Japanese American’s fight against the U.S. government during World War II tonight with “Hold These Truths,” a one-man play by Jeanne Sakata that tells the story of Gordon Hirabayashi,as a part of the “PRC2” series.
Hirabayashi, a Japanese American, found himself battling for the most basic of rights after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941.
In 1943, Hirabayashi was found guilty of violating both the curfew and internment orders implemented by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Between sentencing and appeals, he spent almost a year in prison.
Forty years later, Hirabayashi’s case was overturned, and in April 2012, President Obama posthumously awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Jeffrey Meanza, PlayMakers’ associate artistic director, brought the play to Chapel Hill as this year’s last play of the season after seeing it in New York City. It is also the last play in the company’s PRC2 series, which features conversation-starting presentations and post-show discussions to engage audiences.
“(‘Hold These Truths’) is about a topic that’s not discussed certainly in the discourse of theater,” Meanza said.
“There aren’t a lot of plays about the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II. There isn’t a lot of public discourse in general about that period of American history.”
Originally performed on the west coast as “Dawn’s Light: The Journey of Gordon Hirabayashi,” the play was renamed “Hold These Truths” to better suit east coast audiences who might not be as familiar with the subject.