HOLD THESE TRUTHS Heads South to North Carolina's Playmakers' Rep, April 23-27

HOLD THESE TRUTHS Heads South to North Carolina's Playmakers' Rep, April 23-27

My husband Tim and I are rolling though spring green hills and valleys, spiky dry trees blossoming, from Washington DC through the Shenandoah Valley to Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello to the Blue Ridge Parkway to folksy Asheville to the Great Smoky Mountains in Cherokeeville and then over to Chapel Hill, North Carolina — all because Joseph Haj and Jeffrey Meanza, Artistic Director and Associate Artistic Director of PlayMakers Repertory Company have invited us to bring Gordon Hirabayashi’s story for a regional Southern premiere in the Kenan Theatre’s “PRC2″ solo show series, also featuring shows by Loudon Wainwright III and Mike Daisey.  And so, Tim and I are taking advantage of the invitation to make our own little sojourn through this part of the country.

I keep thinking, “How Gordon would have loved this!”

Both this drive, and the fact that his story would be told in this part of the country.

Gordon told me once traveled through the South has a college student.  As a Japanese American man, he got on what he knew was a segregated bus and defiantly sat in the front, fully expecting the bus driver to object and order him to the back where all the black people were sitting.  That didn’t happen.  The bus driver “categorized” Gordon as he would a white man.  And yet, ironically, Gordon fought a decades-long battle with the US government who threw him and his entire community behind barbed wire without trial or hearing, solely because of their race.

So I am thinking about Gordon as we drive down the highway toward the Blue Ridge Mountains, when we suddenly pass a pickup truck plastered over with Confederate stickers.  When we pass the field where the first battle of the Civil War, the Battle of Bull Run at Manassas, took place.  When we are reminded over and over during our drive of how many countless Americans have fought, bled and died for the eradication of slavery, for civil rights, all for the sake of pushing America toward fulfilling its promise of liberty and justice for all, inspired on the principle that “all men are created equal.

Abraham Lincoln spoke of “a new birth of freedom” in his Gettysburg address, but dear God, what a bloody, savage, horrifying birth that has been, at times.

So, it is all the more humbling and gratifying to be able to bring HOLD THESE TRUTHS to this part of the country.  The gentle light of Gordon Hirabayashi’s character, and his good-natured but relentless insistence that America live up to the words it declares as its bedrock, has lit up the stage at PlayMakers for 6 performances.

Every time Joel de la Fuente takes the stage, he digs wider and deeper further.  Clearly an actor at the top of his game, he surpasses himself every time we reconvene to do the show.  Brilliantly directed by Lisa Rothe, he holds the audience in the palm of his hand for a week’s performances, standing ovations every night.

I am driving through North Carolina, feeling the weighty presence of many who too early departed the earth for freedom’s sake, and giving thanks.  I am a very lucky playwright indeed.

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