Diversity, romance and drama take the stage for a one-night showing of “Lā‘ieikawai” 7 p.m. tonight at Kauai Community College Performing Arts Center. Audience members can pick up on your Hawaiian culture and feel the bond between these characters.
Directed by Assistant Professor of Theater at University of Hawaii at Manoa, Tammy Haili‘ōpua Baker, a Kapaa native, this modern classic incorporates the traditional Hawaiian performance forms of hula, song, chant and puppetry to create drama.
“Hana keaka (Hawaiian-medium theatre) aims to educate, entertain and inspire our audiences. At the very least, we want audience members to learn about this treasured story, to enjoy this form of storytelling via the stage,” Baker said. “At the very most we would like people to be inspired to learn more, to make the initiative to learn about Hawaii’s history, culture, and most importantly the language. E ‘ōlelo Hawai‘i kākou (Let’s speak Hawaiian).”
“Lā‘ieikawai” follows the story Lā‘ieikawai (played by Kau‘i Kaina), one of famed separated Lā‘ie twins Lā‘ieikawai and Lā‘ielohelohe, who were separated at birth. The story focuses on her isolation from the outside world and the numerous suitors that seek her hand. Among them is Kauai chief ‘Aiwohikupua (played by Ioane Goodhue), who brings his Maile sisters, renowned for their fragrant scents, to help him woo the princess. Ultimately failing, he leaves his sisters behind. Grief stricken and lost, they go to the princess for help. Eventually, a bond of sisterhood is formed between them that will help them weather the seemingly insurmountable challenges ahead.
With February being Hawaiian Language month, it seems a perfect time to perform “Lā‘ieikawai,” states a release. The show will be performed in ‘ōlelo Hawai‘i, that is, the Hawaiian language, and marks a turning point for the people of Hawaii and of Hawaiian ancestry.
Touring this production to Kauai is a homecoming for Baker who is originally from Kapaa and a Kapaa High School graduate. Her academic work focuses on the revitalization of Hawaiian language and culture, particularly in the realm of theatre.
“I am very excited to bring this production home to share with my community, family and friends,” Baker said. “Kauai plays a major role in this story and through our performance we hope to honor the individuals in this story who are genealogically connected to the island and the places that they once roamed.”
Baker is a co-founder of Ka Hālau Hanakeaka, a Hawaiian medium theatre troupe whose productions have toured internationally and throughout the Hawaiian archipelago.
Just as it takes a village to raise a child, it takes many minds and sets of knowledge to stage a production. As specialization was practiced in traditional Hawaiian society, a cadre of kumu, or teachers/experts, contribute their expertise as collaborators on this groundbreaking production.
“The most difficult thing about assembling a cast of 30-plus is the logistics, creating time for everyone to be in the same space to rehearse. We also are very fortunate to work with highly skilled kumu, balancing everyone’s calendars is one of the more challenging things to do in the rehearsal process,” Baker said.
This production is sponsored by the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, The Cultural Conservatory, and the Halelea Arts Foundation.
“The easiest thing in this process will be jumping on the plane this Thursday because when we get on that plane I’ll have a peace of mind that our cargo has been packed and sent, we are prepared to perform, and everyone will be together ready to share Lā‘ieikawai’s journey with the people of Kauai,” Baker added.
Tickets for “Lā‘ieikawai” are available at the door or the KCC Performing Arts Center box office. Tickets are $20 for general admission and $10 with Student ID. Doors will open at 6:30 p.m.