Kumu Kahua Theatre brings one of American fiction's most distinct voices to the stage in an adaptation of Lois-Ann Yamanaka's Saturday Night at the Pahala Theatre. The production is a world premiere and is Sponsored by the Iolani Class of '58.

What was it like growing up in a plantation town in 1970s Hawai'i? Through beautifully crafted poetic novellas, Lois-Ann Yamanaka lays bare working-class life in Pahala, mixing raw truths and comedic nostalgia as a chorus of girls on the verge of womanhood tell their stories. Yamanaka, with a steely-eyed gaze, describes what it's like to come of age-dealing with younger sisters who "like be the boss of the food" and drunk uncles, catching chicken pox, skirmishing with the town exhibitionist, experiencing a first make-out session, caring for a pet (in this case a baby goat rescued from Mauna Kea), obeying an irate, overworked mother. 

Yamanaka skillfully balances the hardships of life with moments of tenderness and understanding, making Saturday Night one of the most engaging, honest plays ever produced on an island stage.

Meet Tita, Girlie, Lucy, Kala, and other young women on the brink of adulthood, as they explore sexual awakening, family abuse, peer pressure, and identity.  With humor, pain, and raw honesty, their voices come to life on Kumu Kahua's intimate stage.  It is directed by Kumu Artistic Director, Harry Wong III.

This play contains strong language and adult content.

The winner of the Pushcart Prize, Saturday Night at the P?hala Theatre was Lois-Ann Yamanaka's first major work and introduced the world to one of Hawai'i's bravest writers. 

Saturday Night at the Pahala Theatre was Yamanaka's debut book, published by Bamboo Ridge Press in 1993. Today it has an important place in the canon of Asian-American literature, and is a staple of college reading lists, including that of UCLA's Asian-Amerian Literature Department.

This isn't Kumu Kahua's first adaptation of a Yamanaka book. In 1997 the theater presented Wat's adaptation of Wild Meat and the Bully Burgers, and in 2003, the theater produced the world premiere of Heads By Harry, adapted by John Wat and Keith Kashiwada. 

Special event Feb. 3

The theater is honored to host a Talk Back session with author Lois-Ann Yamanaka following the plays Feb. 3 performance. The audience is invited to remain in the theater once the play has ended to participate in a Q+A session with one of Hawai'i's premier writers.

The Cast

 (Alphabetical Order)

LAUREN BALLESTEROS (Tita Ensemble, Aunty Nancy, Edward) is originally from Los Angeles.  She holds a BA in Sociology, with a minor in Theatre, from UHM.  She appeared Richard II for HSF and in Chase's Harvey and Ibsen's Ghosts last season for TAG.  Lauren made her KKT debut last season in Victoria Kneubuhl's Holiday of Rain.

ALVIN CHAN (Mr. Shimayama, Uncle, Muggs, Old Japanee Man, Porn Star, Tsukebe Haole Man, Kenoi, Willy Joe) has theatre credentials which span playwriting, costume design, and acting.  He holds a BA in Theatre from UHM and is currently a company actor for HTY, as well as, the recipient of a prestigious national award, Theatre Communications Group's 2010 Fox Fellowship Resident Actor Grant which allowed him to train in Asia to develop his traditional Asian performance techniques.  Alvin also spent a couple of years in NYC, and while there played in three Shakespeare productions and Shepard's True West.  In Hawai`i, recent appearances have been in HTY's Momotaro, and HSF's Henry IV Part 2.  Appearances for KKT productions include Yew's A Language of Their Own, the Pak adaptation A Rice Paper Airplane, and Lum's David Carradine Not Chinese. 

Elexis Draine (Lucy, Asi, Faso) has studied acting at LCC and appeared there in Zimmerman's  Argonautika, Allen's Honor Among Thieves, and Chan's Queen for Romancia.  This past summer she appeared in Henry IV Part II for HSF.  Her recent KKT debut was in DeMoville's Cane Fields Burning. 

Stephanie Keiko Kong (Mama, Tita Ensemble) holds a BA in Theatre from UHM and has made many appearances in Kennedy Theatre and the Ernst Lab.  She has participated in multiple productions of The Christmas Gift of Aloha for `Ohia Productions, as well as numerous Lisa Matsumoto musicals.  She also played in Sleeping Beauty at the Hawai`i Theatre Center.  Her most recent work for KKT was in The Statehood Project and Tonouchi's Da Kine Space. 

MOANILILIA MILLER (Tita Ensemble, Girlie, Harriet, Laverne) is from Hilo and is an avid hula dancer.  She played major roles in two earlier KKT productions: Victoria Kneubuhl's The Conversion of Ka`ahumanu in 2002 in its revival season, and in Allan Sutterfield'sKing Kalakaua's Poker Game in 2003. 

KELLI PAGAN (Tita Ensemble, Laverne Leialoha, Auntie) played "R 120" in Grease in high school, but otherwise her performance tonight is her debut.  We welcome her to KKT. 

MAILA P. RONDERO (Kala, Baby Sister, Tita Ensemble, Hula Girl) grew up in Kalihi Valley, attended San Jose State University, and took some acting classes there.  She holds a BA in Political Science with a minor in Speech.  She appeared as an extra in the Even Stevensmovie.  She has three earlier roles to her credit for KKT: in Linmark's Rolling the R's, DeMoville's Kalua`iko`olau, and in the compound-authored Statehood Project.  

SHAWN ANTHONY THOMSEN (Jimmy Boy, Goat, Boy, Aunty Alice, Bernie, Uncle Reggie) is from Waipahu and studied acting at LCC, where he has recently appeared in Sophocles' Oedipus the King, and in Zimmerman's Argonautika.  For MVT he played in Around the World in 80 Days and his film experience includes roles in Journey to the Center of the Earth: Mysterious Island and All for Melissa.  He has also played several roles for HSF and has considerable experience in improvisational theatre.  An earlier appearance for KKT was in last season's production of Victoria Kneubuhl's The Holiday of Rain. 

Danielle Zalopany (Older Sister, Tita Ensemble) trained as an actor at UHM, WCC, and the Academy of Film and Television.  She has been seen at HPU in Quiptease and The Imaginary Invalid and in three productions at WCC's Paliku Theatre.  She made a strong impression in her professional debut for HTY in The Dinosaur Play and Stanton's Navigator.  Last summer she appeared in TAG's A Delicate Balance.  She has played in many KKT productions, most recently in Victoria Kneubuhl's The Holiday of Rain and DeMoville'sCane Fields Burning


Forty-one-year-old Kumu Kahua is the only theater group in the state that nurtures local playwrights, offering them a sounding board and venue, and telling Hawai'i's story through plays about these islands, its people, its cultures and contemporary life. Without Kumu Kahua, seminal works about Hawai'i by Hawai'i playwrights-such as Lee Cataluna's Folks You Meet in Longs and Edward Sakamoto's Aloha Las Vegas-would not have made it to the stage, and into people's hearts. Founded in the early 1970s by University of Hawai'i graduate students, Kumu Kahua has gained national and international recognition for its regional program.

With more than 200 plays to its credit, the theater's artistic and technical experience attracts some of Hawai'i's most talented playwrights, actors, directors, designers and other theater artists. The audience at Kumu Kahua is treated to the unique experience of hearing their voice on stage and seeing their lives unfold in the action of the play.

Kumu Kahua productions are made possible with support from the State Foundation on Culture and the Arts, celebrating more than 30 years of culture and the arts in Hawai'i, and the National Endowment for the Arts; The Annenberg Foundation; Paid for in part by the taxpayers of the City & County of Honolulu; the Mayor's Office of Culture and the Arts; and foundations, businesses and patrons.

WHAT: Saturday Night at the Pahala Theatre, based on the book by Lois-Ann Yamanaka

WHERE: Kumu Kahua Theatre, 46 Merchant St.

WHEN: Through Feb. 26 (see full schedule below)

HOW MUCH: Thursdays-Sundays, tickets range from $5-$20

INFO: 536-4441,www.kumukahua.org; box office open Monday-Friday, 11 a.m.-3 p.m.

SPECIAL EVENT: The Feb. 3 performance will be followed by a "Talk Back" session with author Lois-Ann Yamanaka.

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