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Kumu Kahua Theatre Announces 50th Season


Kumu Kahua Theatre Announces 50th Season

Kumu Kahua Theatre has commissioned five new plays to present for its 50th season, each taking place in one decade of the existence of the theatre. Because of precautions taken to reduce the possibility of spreading Covid-19, Kumu Kahua Theatre is exploring options of presenting these shows, including outdoor and online performances.

"The safety of our patrons, volunteers, artists, and staff is too important to take unnecessary risks," says Managing Director, Donna Blanchard. "We are committed to bringing this season to our audiences somehow, but we probably won't produce shows inside our theatre during 2020, and possibly not until medical strides have been made to protect our population from the C-19 virus. We hope to use the yard outside the theatre and/or other outdoor spaces, but we understand that the Department of Accounting and General Services is not currently issuing any permits to use any facilities/grounds under its jurisdiction until further notice."

Kumu Kahua Theater produced a live Dark Night performance by storytellers via Zoom and streamed onto Facebook in late May. That production had a live audience of 186 individuals and nearly 900 subsequent views on the Facebook platform, and has received positive reviews overall. Recent surveys of Kumu Kahua Theatre audiences suggest that theatre-goers are becoming more willing to explore alternative options of viewing theatre.

The theatre's 50th season plans for in-person gatherings celebrating this momentous year are on hold until further notice.

The productions listed below include time-frames for each, with the caveat that the theatre wishes to produce these shows in some form during these times, but is unable to promise what that may look like for now.

Season subscriptions and ticket sales will open soon. To receive further information directly from Kumu Kahua Theatre, individuals should visit and scroll to the bottom of the homepage to sign up for the theatre's newsletter.

The following is a listing of Kumu Kahua Theatre's 50th season of plays written by and about the people of Hawai'i. Beginning with the 1970s, each of these represents one decade of lives on our islands, flavored by that era.

Lovey Lee

By Moses Goods

World Premiere Drama

August 27 - September 27, 2020

A Hotel Street prostitute's harrowing journey chronicles the highs and lows of 1970s life on the outside of convention.

Hawai'i in the 1970s. A time of reclamation, discovery, and pride. For Lovey Lee, a young queer Hawaiian, the 70s is about finding a place where they can just be. With Hawai'i's cultural renaissance at its peak and with the sexual liberation movement booming throughout the nation, there is perhaps no better time to explore life, identity, and freedom. But the journey of any brave pioneer is often complicated and fraught with challenges. In this coming of age story, Lovey finds themself journeying from their safe island home to the invigorating streets of San Francisco to the dark alleys of Hotel Street and back again in their search for place.

Moses Goods (he/him/his) is one of Hawai'i's most prominent theatre artists. Originally from the island of Maui and now based in Honolulu he has traveled nationally and internationally performing his original work to a wide range of audiences. His body of work ranges from full length plays to theatrical storytelling pieces most of which are strongly rooted in Native Hawaiian culture.

Moses' extensive body of work includes Duke a touring one-man-show about surfing legend Duke Kahanamoku, Paniolo: Stories and Songs of the Hawaiian Cowboy and My Name is 'Opukaha'ia a piece that recently toured for a month throughout New England.

Moses is also the founder and artistic director of 'Inamona Theatre Company, an organization dedicated to reintroducing the native stories of Hawai'i to the community. 'Inamona is a traditional Hawaiian relish made from the roasted kernel of the kukui (candlenut). It is sprinkled sparingly over mea 'ai (nourishing food) to gently enhance the natural flavor. Moses believes that no matter how skilled the storyteller, his (or her) work is merely a condiment to the greater sustenance. The true "mea 'ai" are the stories that have come before us, the stories of our ancestors.

Kimo the Waiter

By Lee Cataluna

World Premiere Comedy

November 5 - December 6, 2020

Kimo waits tables while pursuing his dream of acting professionally in the 1980s-but he's always too brown, or not brown enough. Kimo the Waiter is Lee Cataluna's love song to those fearless and unstoppable actors who broke barriers despite all odds.

We think of the 1980s as a time of flash over substance, Star Search dreams, blind ambition, and everyone wanting to be big, whatever that meant. In Hawaii, the 80s brought a slew of network television series and specials, modeling classes were offered at the mall, and everyone seemed to have their own 8x10 glossy ready in case they might be "discovered" at the disco. In the middle of this glitter storm is Kimo, an actor with true talent, who tries to follow his calling past the siren song of celebrity into the world of actual art. In the 1980s, there were few roles for people of color, except for local commercials, and those television images of Hawai`i people were, in some cases, even more limiting than Hollywood's idea of what it meant to be from Hawai`i. Kimo's quest is funny, frustrating, and totally relatable as he tries to break free from stereotypical images of island characters.

(She/her/hers) Lee Cataluna's first play, Da Mayah, broke box office records at Kumu Kahua when it premiered in 1998. Since then, she has collaborated with Kumu Kahua on many successful theatrical pieces. Her play Home of the Brave was commissioned by La Jolla Playhouse for the 2018 POP tour. She has written plays for young audiences for Honolulu Theater for Youth. Her play Flowers of Hawai`i was selected for development at Out of the Box Theatrics in NYC and for a workshop at Native Voices at the Autry in Los Angeles. She is the metro columnist for Honolulu's largest daily newspaper and her book Folks You Meet in Longs was named by Honolulu Magazine as one of the 50 essential books about Hawai'i.

Born and raised in Hawaii and of Native Hawaiian descent, Cataluna has an MFA in Creative Writing from UC Riverside.

Aloha Fry-day

By Hannah Il-Epstein

World Premiere Dramedy

January 14 - February 14, 2021

In many indigenous cultures, hallucinogens are inextricably linked to rituals celebrating liminality, their consciousness-expanding qualities can also induce therapeutic emotional release from trauma, but during a night of jubilant euphoria in the 1990s, Sherrie's unresolved memories erupt into tragedy.

The final act in Ii-Epstein's North Shore O'ahu drug trilogy, Aloha Fry-Day follows four friends, Sherrie, Sistah, Lei, and Jason as they meet in the forest to mourn a friend's death by spreading his ashes and taking hallucinogens. What they find on their mission is unexpected as they share stories which are haunted by the ghosts of the 'aina.

Hannah Ii-Epstein (she/her/hers), born and raised on the North Shore of O'ahu and received her MFA in Writing for the Screen + Stage at Northwestern University in 2018. She is a creative writer, dramatist, and Co-Artistic Director of Nothing Without a Company (NWaC). Since 2007, over twenty of her works were produced in Hawai'i by Kumu Kahua Theatre and in Chicago by NWaC, About Face Theatre's Babes on Stage, and Fury Theatre's SAST. In 2016 Hannah and her play, Not One Batu, was honored by Hawai'i State Theatre Council Po`okela Award. In 2018, in Chicago Not One Batu was Reader and Jeff Recommended. In 2019 her short film, Redesign Your Life, won 5 awards, including Best Film Runner Up at 48HFP Chicago. Hannah is a founding member of BearCat Productions and a member of the Hawaiian Civic Club and Aloha Center Chicago.

'other: a microstory

By Daniel A. Kelin, II

World Premiere Drama

March 18 - April 18, 2021

Told backward in time during the 2000s, featuring the traditional trickster god Letao, other: a micro-story illustrates the challenge of fitting into a new world faced by the Marshallese in Hawai'i, who arrived dreaming of a future for their families.

Notorious trickster Letao shepherds both audience and actors alike through this backward theatrical journey of Abija and Hirlynn, two Marshall Islands youth, who set off for America and face challenges fitting into a frustratingly abstruse world. As the young islanders discover unexpected truths about their island home and encounter cultural misconceptions, Letao dispenses occasional-and occasionally uninvited-insights and interruptions in his enthusiastic craving to showcase the contradictions of humans and humanity.

Daniel A. Kelin II works for the Honolulu Theatre for Youth and is a theatre artist who travels a great deal. His theatre work has taken him to Asia, across the Pacific, and the US. He has had fellowships with Montalvo Arts Center, Theatre for Young Audiences/USA, The Children's Theatre Foundation of America, the Hawaii State Foundation on Culture and the Arts as well as two Fulbright-Nehru fellowships, the most recent as visiting faculty with the National School of Drama in Tripura, India. Daniel is on the Teaching Artist roster of the John F. Kennedy Center for Performing Arts and has been affiliated with theatres, schools, and youth organizations in American Samoa, the Marshall Islands, Pohnpei, Guam, India, Nepal, and Sri Lanka. 2019 saw the world premiere at Kumu Kahua Theatre of his solo play Shipwreck'd on the Body Beautiful, which he wrote and performed (and received a local acting award for). His play, Sing a Porpoise Home received a staged reading at NYU and won the Aurand Harris Playwriting award of the New England Theatre Conference. Donnie Q: Knight of the Third Grade was the winner of the Old Miner's Children's Playwriting Contest and received a staged reading at the Noorda Theatre Center for Children and Youth. Other awards have come from the Theatre Communication Group, the US State Department, and Partners for the Americas. His most recently published play is A Fool and her Flying Ship while his play The Musical (Mis)Adventures of Goopy and Bagha was honored by a children's theatre in Arizona and performed in South India. He was the founding director of Cabaret Tiki, a playwright collective dedicated to writing and producing plays of five pages or less. As actor/director, Daniel has worked at Kumu on Moa a Mo'i (local directing award), Cockadoodledoo, #iambadatthis, as well as first runs of Watcher of Waipuna and Way of a God.

Untitled TMT Project

By Susan Soon He Stanton

World Premiere

May 20 - June 20, 2021

In the 2010s the construction of a 30-meter telescope on Mauna Kea was announced. Author Susan Stanton skillfully uses theatre to investigate the issues surrounding the TMT protests.

Dramatizing the controversial Thirty Meter Telescope, Untitled TMT Project explores the intersections of the sacred, science, government, capitalism, and tradition. This play draws inspiration from interviews with kia'i, government officials, activists, scientists, and community members, as well as visits to Pu'uhonua o Pu'uhuluhulu Maunakea and observatories. Weaving together hula and oli, original narrative, interviews, and news reports, Untitled TMT Project creates a theatrical space where many different voices and truths can coexist. Untitled TMT Project is a 360° view of the complex cultural and political forces that shape Hawai'i.

Susan Soon He Stanton is a playwright, screenwriter, and TV writer from Aiea, Hawai'i. As a playwright, she has written Moana Jr. (book) and Into the Shadowland (book) for Disney Theatrical Group. Plays in Hawai'i include we, the invisibles (Actors Theatre of Louisville Humana Festival, Leah Ryan FEWW award) Today Is My Birthday (Page 73), Takarazuka!!! (Clubbed Thumb and East West Players), Solstice Party! (Live Source), The Things Are Against Us (Washington Ensemble Theatre), Navigator (Honolulu Theatre for Youth), and at Kumu Kahua: Whatever Happened to John Boy Kihano and #iambadatthis (Po'okela Award).

She is a two-time Sundance Theater Lab Resident Playwright and was awarded the inaugural Venturous Playwrights Fellowship at the Lark, and a member of New Dramatists. She was a Susan Glaspell Finalist, a runner-up for Southern Rep's Ruby Prize, and received a Susan Smith Blackburn nomination, and a NET Partnership Grant with Satori Group. She has received commissions from Yale Repertory Theatre, American Conservatory Theater/Crowded Fire, South Coast Repertory and Ensemble Studio Theatre among others.

She is a writer and producer for HBO's award-winning series Succession. She has developed projects for Showtime, Netflix, Amazon, and House Productions among others. She has received a Feature Film Development Grant and screenwriting award from the Sloan Foundation. Dress won the audience award at the Hawaii International Film Festival. Bushwick Beats, a multi-writer independent film just opened at the Bushwick Film Festival. Other films include Good House, Dispatched, Same Will and the web series we are the interns. She received a Feature Film Development Grant and a screenwriting award from the Sloan Foundation.

Susan holds a BFA from NYU Tisch's Dramatic Writing program and an MFA from Yale School of Drama, where she received the Audrey Woods Fellowship and the Eugene O'Neill Memorial Scholarship, and was a Yale World Fellow.

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