Next Generation Kuleana
Stage / Kumu Kahua Theatre’s 41st season closes with Alani Apio’s Kamau Ae, returning to the stage after a fifteen-year respite. Wil Kahele, who co-directed the 2007 revival of Kamau (the prequel) with Kumu Kahua artistic director Harry Wong III, directs this production. Wong directed both shows’ premieres back in the ‘90s, and so now relinquishes the kuleana to Kahele. The complex issues surrounding Hawaiian sovereignty divide a family, with two cousins on opposite sides, fighting for what they believe.
Those familiar with the original productions will recognize actor Charles Kupahu Timtim, who played Alika then, now portraying the opposite cousin, Michael. For those unfamiliar, the published plays are available at Native Books. But homework is not a prerequisite for this powerful drama.
Kahele explains that some cast members have done research on real-life Hawaiian-sovereignty activists in order to better understand the play and its characters. Most of the cast, he notes, are part-Hawaiian, and some are fluent in the language, which helps with understanding elements like mele kanikau included in the script. “We’re learning every day,” says Kahele.
Just as the characters in the play struggle with their identity and beliefs, so must this next generation of actors and directors, through the process of embodying that world. And so, hopefully, will the audience.