At this time, any distraction and source of entertainment to help get your creativity and curiosity flowing is helpful, and to do just that, People’s Light Theater has come up with an artful solution to still give people a way to experience their stage through its new virtual initiative People’s Light—Always On.
The popular organization in Chester County is currently offering a way for Philadelphians to stream Jeanne Sakata’s “Hold These Truths” online amidst our current situation with COVID-19, the stream is available now and will be active until May 16.
“Hold These Truths” features actor Steven Eng, who in this one-man show, plays a whopping 38 roles including civil rights activist Gordon Hirabayashi. Sakata’s critically acclaimed play follows Gordon as a young University of Washington student and practicing Quaker as he struggles with his ideology on the U.S. Constitution with the government’s 1942 orders to forcibly remove and intern over 120,000 people of Japanese descent from the West Coast. The resistance Gordon showcases leads to the famous 1943 Supreme Court case Hirabayashi v. the United States.
Although “Hold These Truths” never got to see a live audience from People’s Light’s stage, the powerful production can still make an impact on audiences virtually. Recommended for ages 10 and up, this show is educational as well as entertaining.
According to the release, along with digital access to the play, the People’s Light website also offers notes from the creative team, historical context, and Resident Dramaturg Gina Pisasale’s guide to Gordon Hirabayashi’s legacy, which continues to resonate today as we encounter questions of national security, citizenship and what it means to be an American. People’s Light is also providing video access to schools that planned to incorporate “Hold These Truths” into their spring curriculum, with additional educational resources available to teachers and students. Those who did not already have tickets to “Hold These Truths” before the production’s cancellation can purchase access to the streaming link for $35 at peopleslight.org.
People’s Light is offering more ways than just one to be entertained online, however.
The theater’s Spring School is going digital this year, and there will be classes offered virtually for ages 5 to 18. Classes are split into four age groups and meet every Saturday morning now through May 16, with registration open now on People’s Light’s website.
Sessions include segments from teaching artist Josh Walker who will show kiddos (ages 5 to 7) how to use household objects, puppets, DIY crafts, jokes and dance to uncover new stories; frequent guest artist Marissa Barnathan who will challenge participants (ages 8 to 10) to express their voice, body and imagination through Character Chats with the new people students create; People’s Light Resident Teaching Artist Nadira Beard who will investigate with participants (ages 11-13) our new boundaries with fresh eyes, setting storytelling challenges based on “normal” objects around the home or yard; and McKenna Kerrigan who will lead participants (ages 14 to 18) through the preparation of scenes for on-camera auditions and performances while utilizing her own acting experiences.
People’s Light also features a blog on its website that highlights up-to-date news from commissioned playwrights, in-depth knowledge into the theater and more, and also a Learning Bulletin Board where, according to the release, affiliated artists and educators can share their own digital offerings (like Zoom voice lessons or dance exercises) on the People’s Light website.
People’s Light—Always On has a lot more in store for the future as well. In the weeks ahead, Philadelphians can look forward to live readings, community resources, interviews, music, videos and in-depth looks at new play development. New content will be added weekly and updates will be made available through social media if you follow People’s Light @peopleslight on Facebook and Instagram.