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by Shane Toguchi, student writer

You won’t find Cameron Diaz, Brad Pitt, or Julia Roberts acting in a Kumu Kahua Theatre production. You won’t find plays written by Andrew Lloyd Webber or directed by Stephen Spielberg either. But you will see local actors performing plays written by local writers about life in Hawai‘i.

Kumu Kahua Theatre, now entering its 37th season, strives to provide affordable theatrical entertainment according to its Artistic Director, Harry Wong III. The season consists of five plays, starting with Ala Wai, which premieres on August 23.

Kumu Kahua, which means original stage, has put on more than 165 plays, including performances translated into American sign language.

Kumu Kahua is committed to the cultural preservation of local lifestyle, according to Wong. The theater is supported by many Hawai‘i businesses and organizations that share its belief in the values of portraying island life via the performance arts, including, the state, the city, University of Hawai‘i, Indigo, Murphy’s Bar and Grill, Wholesale Unlimited, and Bank of Hawai‘i.

The theater is located in at 46 Merchant St., just two blocks from HPU’s downtown campus. It holds 100 patrons and creates an intimate atmosphere more like a campfire than an auditorium or concert hall, with seats located in such close proximity to the stage that the audience members can actually feel as though they are part of the play.

The theater offers no reserved seating, but guarantees that all ticket holders will be seated. The shows generally sellout, so patrons should purchase their tickets in advance.

Local history teacher Gary Fukushima, a frequent patron of the theater, said, “KKT [Kumu Kahua Theatre] is the only theater in Hawai‘i that consistently produces plays that show local life. Most of their plays really dig deep into the culture of Hawai‘i.”

Byron Hiroshi Wake wrote Kumu Kahua’s first production this season’s, which premieres on August 23. Like most Kumu Kahua productions, Ala Wai’s dialogue is in Pidgin English.

This local comedy is about roommates, Bertram and Ernesto, who abruptly become unemployed and homeless. Ernesto has a drug problem, and Bertram has a fear of tilapias. These roommates weave hilarious twists with the supporting characters and a storyline filled with laughter.

Kumu Kahua offers off-season workshops that include playwriting, acting, improvisation, and voice and movement classes. Instructors for these classes are local writers and actors, and information can be found on Kumu Kahua’s Web site, www.kumukahua.org.

Kumu Kahua welcomes actors to audition for any of their productions. Wong suggests that anyone interested should call the theater to be put on the mailing list, as audition announcements can be sent via mail or e-mail

Ala Wai plays on Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from August 23 to Sept. 23. Thursday, Friday, and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. For more information on show dates and ticket purchases, call the Kumu Kahua box office at 536-4441.

Tickets can be purchased at the theater. General admission tickets are an affordable $13 and season ticket subscribers receive a very generous discount of 25 percent the first time and 35 percent for renewing subscribers. Students, with valid ID, can purchase tickets for only $5.
 

 

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