The Development of Hawai'i's Kumu Kahua Theatre and Its Core Repertory: The "Local" Plays of Sakamoto, Lum and Kneubuhl

Mattos, Justina T.
Carroll, W. Dennis
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University of Hawaii at Manoa
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Kumu Kahua Theatre is a non-profit theatre company in Honolulu which has been in existence since 1971. It is the only theatre in the world dedicated to producing plays which speak particularly to the multi-ethnic audiences of Hawai‘i. Over the past thirty years Hawai‘i’s “local” playwrights have benefited from a working relationship with Kumu Kahua Theatre, which has served as an original stage on which they could practice and refine their craft. This dissertation defines what is meant by “local” theatre, and includes a brief historical overview of Hawai‘i’s socio-political climate and theatrical activities before 1971 to provide a foundation from which to discuss Kumu Kahua Theatre and Hawai‘i’s contemporary “local” playwrights. The activities of Kumu Kahua Theatre from 1971 through 1999 are described, focusing upon the productions of significant “local” plays during this period, and the role of Kumu Kahua Theatre in the growth and refinement of “local” drama. Playwrights mentioned here include: Aldyth Morris, Lynette Amano, James Grant Benton, Jon Shirota, Milton Murayama, Brian Clark, Peter Charlot, John Kneubuhl, Daniel Therriault, and Alani Apio. Three playwrights, Edward Sakamoto, Darrell H.Y. Lum and Victoria Nālani Kneubuhl, stand out for their contributions to “local” theatre, and their plays have comprised the core repertory of Kumu Kahua Theatre. Chapters three, four and five analyze the “local” plays for adults by these writers. The conclusion compares and contrasts these three playwrights, summarizing the overall developments in “local” theatre and the role of Kumu Kahua Theatre in Hawai‘i’s “local” drama tradition. Tammy Haili‘ōpua Baker’s Hawaiian language theatre troupe, Ka Hālau Hanakeaka, is briefly discussed in reference to the changing use of language in Hawaiʻi’s “local” drama and as a possible indication of what we might expect more of in the future. Four appendices are provided. Appendix A lists all plays produced by Kumu Kahua Theatre, including the names of playwrights, directors, venues, and production dates. Appendix B provides a season-by-season listing of Kumu Kahua Board Members. Appendix C summarizes the box-office reports for each production from which these figures were available. Appendix D lists Hawai‘i’s “local” playwrights and “local” plays.
vii, 389 leaves, bound ; 29 cm.
Thesis (Ph. D.)--University of Hawaii at Manoa, 2002.
Mode of access: World Wide Web.
Includes bibliographical references (leaves 356-389).
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Also available on microfiche.
396 pages
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Theses for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy (University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa). Theatre ; no. 4191
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