Ryun Yu, who will be featured in the upcoming production of Hold These Truths, answered a few questions about his approaching role as Gordon Hirabayashi, an unsung American hero who stood up for his belief in the constitution. Hold These Truths, written by Jeanne Sakata and directed by Jessica Kubzansky, will play at the Playhouse May 30 – June 25.
What do you look forward to regarding working at The Pasadena Playhouse?
As a young actor, you have a lot of dreams. Working here, telling a story like this, was one of mine.
You have played this role numerous times, what keeps bringing you back to Hold These Truths?
This is a play that I have grown with and into. When I first performed it, there were dark corners it looks into that I was unable to confront squarely. There were things that only experiencing love, loss, and time could teach me. Gordon Hirabayashi hides it under a gentle, humble demeanor, but he has the straight spine and fearless heart of the most epic of heroes. I measure myself against him every time I do the play, and usually find I have a long way to go. Gordon was once interviewed in the 1980s, when he was going back to court to have his convictions thrown out. He was asked why he was doing it. He had lived a life. The internment was forty years in the past. He answered that they were going back to court so that nothing like this would happen again to any other group of Americans. We are more than a tribe of one color. Our identity as a nation depends on the rule of law, and our achievements must transcend the narrow squabbles and selfishness of our current time if they are to have any meaning at all. Gordon worked for these ideals all of his life. I hear his voice in the present darkness, undiminished with time, and unbowed under the weight of forgetfulness, calling: do not let the sacrifice of so many be forgotten. The greatness of America lies in her ideals, not in her temporal power.
What would audiences find surprising about this play?
I think one of the play’s accomplishments is that it feels like a play, not a one man show. It is less about the personality of the actor, and more a story, with multiple characters, that takes you on a journey. Also, because Gordon was a very delightful soul, charming, funny and dry, I think the play has
those qualities as well.
What do you hope people walk away with?
I hope people walk away with the feeling that they’ve spent time with one of the great American heroes, and that they are buoyed by his incredible faith and love for our country and the Constitution.