The play follows the lives of two exciting women, Fanny and
Belle, the wife and her daughter of 19th century Robert Louis
Stevenson, as they travel to parts of the world.
Fanny does something that most women during that time would
never dream of. She divorces her first husband and marries
the young Stevenson, a man 10 years younger than herself.
The play begins in Samoa, in 1915, as Belle is about to spread
her mother’s ashes and continues in a flashback of memories
of her mother and their life over a 60-year time frame. The
story starts in 1856, when a young Fanny runs off with her
Fanny and Belle focuses on the relationship between a mother
and daughter, but also on women discovering who they are and
how they go about creating an identity for themselves. It’s
a platform for women’s voices.
Belle’s memoirs, Fanny’s letters, and their own
writings were the primary sources for the play, but some help
came with the imagination of Victoria Nalani Kneubuhl.
In 1994, Kneubuhl received the Hawai‘i Award for Literature,
an award given to writers for their body of work. In 1996,
she received an Individual Artist Fellowship from the State
Foundation on Culture and the Artists, and used it in her research
of Fanny and Belle.
Kneubuhl first read Robert Louis Stevenson when she was just
a little girl. She moved from his book of poetry for children
to Treasure Island and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Then, at the
age of 12, she went to visit her father’s family in Samoa
and she hiked up to the Stevenson’s home and visited
Kneubuhl first found out about Fanny in a book called The Violent
Friend: The Story of Mrs. Robert Louis Stevenson by Margaret
Kneubuhl visited the University of California- Berkley’s
Bancroft Library and found some of Fanny’s unpublished
work. Then she went to the Silverado Museum in St. Helena,
Calif., and was able to look through the Stevenson’s
possessions including some of Belle’s early drawings
To bring Kneubuhl’s play to life is the job of director
John Wat. At first Wat didn’t think he should do the
play, because it was a very female-dominated drama. But he
admirered Kneubuhl’s work, and loved Fanny and Belle
and all of Kneubuhl’s previous plays, so he decided to
chance it. (Wat had already directed one of Kneubuhl’s
plays, Ola N Iwi.)
According to Wat, history is very male-dominated, so the
play is a change in perspective that is very exciting.
In Fanny and Belle, Wat says, he gets to directs 10 talented
actors and actresses.
The tight-knit cast includes: Jennifer Robideau, who plays
Fanny, and Laura Bach, who plays Belle. Other cast members
include Michelle Crush, Victoria Gail-White, Wil Kahele,
James Rudy, Terri Seeborg, Eric Schonleber, Laurie TAanoura,
Fanny and Belle opens March 5 and runs Thursdays through
Sundays until April 10 at Kumu Kahua Theatre, located
on 46 Merchant
Admission is $10 for students, $16 for general audiences,
and $13 for senior citizens and groups of 10 or more.
Thursdays are discount day. Students pay only $5
when they show their
For tickets, call 536-4441.