People’s Light Presents Hold These Truths

By Jeanne Sakata

Directed by Desdemona Chiang
March 18-April 19, 2020
Steinbright Stage

People’s Light presents Hold These Truths, a solo play inspired by the true story of Gordon Hirabayashi. As a young University of Washington student and practicing Quaker, Gordon struggles to reconcile his love for the U.S. Constitution with the government’s orders to incarcerate people of Japanese ancestry on the West Coast. His work ultimately leads to the famous 1943 Supreme Court case Hirabayashi v. United States. Tickets start at $35, including fees. To purchase, call 610.644.3500 or visit People’s Light is located at 39 Conestoga Road, Malvern, PA 19355.

This February marks 78 years since President Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066 authorizing the mass incarceration of more than 100,000 people of Japanese descent. While many vehemently protested the order, Hirabayashi’s resistance was one of only three cases taken to the Supreme Court, establishing his place in American civil rights history. After a career in academics with multiple degrees in sociology, Dr. Hirabayashi spent his retirement years active on behalf of human rights. He was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Barack Obama in 2012.

“I’ve wanted to bring Hold These Truths to People’s Light for almost a decade,” says Producing Director Zak Berkman. “My former company, Epic Theatre Ensemble, developed and produced the Off-Broadway premiere of Jeanne Sakata’s play, which has now toured all over the United States. It’s thrilling to bring together this new team of artists to tell Gordon’s story at a time when his Quaker principles and enduring faith in our Constitution’s true values are more relevant than ever.”

Hold These Truths first premiered in 2007 at East West Players, the nation’s premier Asian American theatre, under the title Dawn’s Light: The Journey of Gordon Hirabayashi. Since then, Hold These Truths has been produced over twenty times throughout the United States and Canada. It’s been hailed as “gripping” (The New York Times), “surprisingly humorous and openhearted” (The Seattle Times), “mesmerizing and multidimensional” (Triangle Arts and Entertainment), and “a rallying cry for our times” (San Francisco Chronicle). People’s Light presented a one-night-only staged reading of the play as part of their 2014 Community Matters series.

Steven Eng makes his People’s Light debut as Gordon Hirabayashi (and 37 other characters!) Director Desdemona Chiang also makes her People’s Light debut, joined by three designers new to People’s Light – Se Hyun Oh as set designer, Dawn Chiang on lighting, and Hidenori Nakajo as sound designer. Frequent guest artist Katie Yamaguchi serves as costume designer and Resident Dramaturg Gina Pisasale is production dramaturg for Hold These Truths. Matthew Luppino stage manages.



Jeanne Sakata Playwright
Jeanne Sakata’s Hold These Truths has won accolades in over twenty productions across the country, most recently at the Barrington Stage Company, Arena Stage, San Diego Repertory, the Guthrie Theatre, Pasadena Playhouse, Portland Center Stage, and ACT Seattle (Drama Desk nomination, Outstanding Solo Performance; Theatre Bay Awards, Outstanding Lead Performance, Direction and Production). Currently writing a new play commissioned by LA TheatreWorks, Jeanne has also enjoyed recent recurring/guest star TV and film roles in the internationally acclaimed indie film Advantageous, High School Musical: The Musical: The Series, NCIS Los Angeles, Big Hero 6, and Dr. Ken. She has twice performed at People’s Light in Romeo and Juliet: A Requiem and A Single Shard, as well as at such theaters as the Vineyard Theatre, McCarter Theatre Center, Kennedy Center, Public Theatre, Mark Taper Forum, ACT in San Francisco, La Jolla Playhouse, Berkeley Rep and East West Players (Theatre LA Ovation Award, Outstanding Lead Actress, Red by Chay Yew). Websites:

Desdemona Chiang Director
People’s Light debut. Theatre Includes: Snow White, The Journal of Ben Uchida (Seattle Children’s Theatre); White Pearl (Studio Theatre); Vietgone (Alley Theatre); M Butterfly (South Coast Repertory); The Great Leap (Guthrie Theater); Caught (Intiman Theatre); The Winter’s Tale (Oregon Shakespeare Festival); Pride and Prejudice (Pittsburgh Public Theater); King of the Yees (ACT Theatre, Baltimore Center Stage); As You Like It (California Shakespeare Theater); Constellations (Seattle Rep); The Crucible (PlayMakers Repertory Company), and Smart People (Long Wharf Theatre), among others. Upcoming: Macbeth (Seattle Shakespeare Company), Eastbound (Adirondack Theatre Festival), The Winter’s Tale (Seattle Repertory Theatre Public Works) and Shrek the Musical (5th Avenue Theatre). Awards: Princess Grace Award, the Vilcek Prize for Creative Promise, Gregory Award for Outstanding Direction, SDC Sir John Gielgud Fellowship, and Drama League Fellowship. Co-founder, Azeotrope. Adjunct faculty, Cornish College of the Arts. Training: BA, UC Berkeley. MFA Directing, University of Washington. Website:

Steven Eng Gordon Hirabayashi
People’s Light debut. Theatre Includes: The King and I (London West End), Pacific Overtures (Classic Stage Company, 2018 Lucille Lortel nomination), New York Philharmonic, Ensemble Studio Theatre, ShakespeareNYC, Prospect Theater Company, A.C.T., 5th Avenue Theatre, Pasadena Playhouse, Paper Mill Playhouse, Alliance Theatre, Cincinnati Playhouse, TUTS, Dallas Theater Center, Ordway Center, North Shore Music Theater, and many more, as well as in Germany, Austria, and Cambodia. Film/Television Includes: ShanghaiPremium RushBlue Bloods. He is a co-founder of the nonprofit National Asian Artists Project in NYC as well as a freelance director. He is currently on the faculties of New York University, Columbia University, Atlantic Theater Company and HB Studio. Training: MFA George Washington University, BFA Southern Methodist University. Website:

Hold These Truths previews Wednesday, March 18; Thursday, March 19; and Friday, March 20 at 7:30pm. The play opens on Saturday, March 21 at 8pm and runs through Sunday, April 19. Standard tickets start at $45, including fees. $35 preview tickets are available March 18 – 20. For tickets, call the Box Office at 610.644.3500 or visit

Discounts are available for groups of 10 or more. For more information or to purchase group tickets, call Group Sales Associate Kelly Benedict at 610.647.1900 ext. 111 or email


Hold These Truths is recommended for ages 10+ due to mature themes.


Flexible subscription packages are available for the remainder of the 2019/2020 Season at People’s Light. Productions include Shakespeare in Love (February 26 – March 29); Hold These Truths (March 18 – April 19); Bayard Rustin: Inside Ashland (May 13 – June 7); Mary Jane (June 24 – July 19)and Songs for Nobodies (August 5 – 30).


Season 46 just announced! The 2020/2021 Season will include Mushroom (September 24 – October 25), A Christmas Carol (November 19 – January 3), Vivie (January 13 – February 7), A Raisin in the Sun (February 24 – March 28), Walden (April 7 – May 2), Personality: The Lloyd Price Musical (May 19 – June 13), Steel Magnolias (June 23 – July 25)and Sherlock Holmes and the Raven’s Curse (August 4 – 29)Full season subscriptions are now available.


Visit or call 610.644.3500 for more information about tickets and subscriptions.

Actors, prices, productions, performance dates and times are subject to change. Additional service charges will apply. Contact the Box Office for more details.


Arrive early for Drinks & Dramaturgy. Explore our dramaturgy board, an interactive lobby display that provides context to enhance your experience of the production, as you enjoy a glass of wine or beer from concessions. (And yes, you can take your food and drinks inside the theatre!)


Join us for Scoop on Wednesdays. Resident Dramaturg Gina Pisasale hosts a member of the community with connections to Hold These Truths for a lively pre-performance discussion (with snacks!) Get behind-the-scenes info and learn more about the context of the play. Scoop starts at 6pm in the Lusk Library and Conference Room (accessed from the Steinbright Stage lobby) before 7:30pm performances on April 1 and 15. Now only $5 and available for purchase online.

Stay for AfterWORDS, informal post-show Q&As immediately following Thursday evening performances on April 2, 9, and 16


Beginning with the 2pm performance of Hold These Truths on April 1, People’s Light will offer Smart Caption Glasses, which provide customizable, in-line captioning of the play’s text within smart glasses. In partnership with the Institute on Disabilities at Temple University and the National Theatre of Great Britain, People’s Light is the first theatre in the United States to offer Smart Caption Glasses to theatre audiences.


People’s Light offers a range of audio/visual aids and sensory supports freely available to patrons, including audio headsets, T-Coil “induction” loops, large print programs, fidgets, noise-canceling headphones, and more. These supports are available in the theatre lobby on a first come, first served basis (no reservations required).


Open Caption performances of Hold These Truths are April 14 at 7:30pm, April 15 at 7:30pm, April 16 at 7:30pm, April 18 at 2pm and 8pm, and April 19 at 2pm. During these performances, the actors’ lines appear on a small LED screen near the stage as they speak.

To further expand access to our work, we offer select half-priced performances throughout the season. The 50% off Access Night for Hold These Truths is April 14 at 7:30pm. Your discount is automatically applied when purchasing tickets.

Service animals are welcome at all performances at People’s Light. The theatre offers a designated relief area and water bowl for their comfort.


Enjoy Dinner & A Show packages at the Farmhouse Bistro prior to select Wednesday through Sunday performances. Wednesday, Thursday, or Sunday evening dinner packages start at $82. Friday and Saturday packages start at $90. That’s a savings of up to 15% off the single ticket price. We also offer Brunch Packages that include brunch at The Bistro paired with tickets to Sunday matinee performancesCall the Box Office at 610.644.3500.

Located next to The Bistro is a full-service catering venue, The Farmhouse at People’s Light, perfect for weddings, corporate events, and special celebrations. Contact the Farmhouse Sales Team at 610.647.1631 ext. 156 or


Now in its 45th seasonPeople’s Light, a professional, not-for-profit theatre in Chester County, Pennsylvania, makes plays drawn from many sources to entertain, inspire, and engage our community. We extend our mission of making and experiencing theatre through arts education programs that excite curiosity about, and deepen understanding of, the world around us. These plays and programs bring people together and provide opportunities for reflection, discovery, and celebration. Founded in 1974, we produce eight to nine plays each season, in two black box theatres with 340 and 160 seats respectively, mixing world premieres, contemporary plays, and fresh approaches to classic texts. Through two new play initiatives, New Play Frontiers and the Harmony Lab, People’s Light currently has seven active play commissions. Of our 452 productions, over a third (171) have been world or regional premieres.

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