Right in time for the holiday season, right as were all in desperate need for some meaningful American male role models, Hold These Truths, written by Jeanne Sakata, a solo show up at the Sheen Center, gifts one in Gordon Hirabayashi. Gordon fought back against the American government when they called for the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II. Despite the immoral, and ultimately documented and established unlawful, actions taken against Gordon, his family, and his community, he never wavered in his faith in American principles and the Constitution, and never let his spirit break. It is a wonderful documentary of an American hero.
The work is professionally performed and rendered, which allows for this great American story to be fully told. As Gordon, Joel de la Fuente’s performance is remarkably efficient, buoyant, and specific with some of the best elocution I’ve encountered recently to buttress wonderful storytelling -- and the story is genuinely pretty crazy. At one point, Gordon hitchhikes to prison 1,600 miles away. De la Fuente told the story so clearly that I swear-to-god I could probably recall every detail to you now.
There was never a wasted movement, no act didn’t contribute to the tale; clearly director Lisa Rothe deserves some credit for that. There were many other characters de la Fuente portrayed throughout the work, including Gordon's parents, Supreme Court Justices, lawyers, younger or older versions of himself, friends, etc.; de la Fuente employed simple yet abundantly clear alterations of voice or body positioning or gesture to create these men and women. It totally worked: he could return to characters, make countless new ones, allowing for a whole universe to surround Gordon Hirabayashi.
For most Americans, including myself, the name Korematsu is associated with the Supreme Court cases against the government during World War II. In fact, as we learn in the story, there were three such cases, Gordon Hirabayashi’s being one of them. I am grateful to now know his name, and I look to him as being the kind of person every American could pattern themselves after.