Some rise by sin and some by virtue fall ...
August 18–August 26, 2023
Hawaiian Mission Houses
There is an old Hawaiian saying that goes like this:
“He ‘e‘epa ke aloha, he kula‘ilua.”
Love is peculiar; it pushes in opposite directions.
Love goes two ways—to love and to be loved.
Love is indeed peculiar. Have you heard the word ‘e‘epa before? Try go look ’um up, bumbai. Going give you some kaona, guarantee, especially in da context of dis play.
Any classic huaka‘i begins with a departure from the known into the unknown: Theseus into the labyrinth, Odysseus onto the Trojan battlefield (and subsequent adventures), Orpheus’ descent to the underworld. But what of the journeys and mo‘olelo of Hawai‘i? When we explore the ‘ōlelo no‘eau of kūpuna, we find sayings and allusions to narratives that confound, confront, and content our appetite for adventure. But the quality of these types of adventures are dissimilar to a western conception of adventure, and the protagonists don’t quite follow Joseph Campbell’s “Hero’s Journey”, perhaps because the Akua of the Mediterranean are different from the Akua of Pasifika.
There is much I explore with regards to my Hawaiian roots in this production, an offering and exploration of love. According to some scholars, A Midsummer Night’s Dream is a story upholding the institution of marriage: some scholars say it may have even been originally staged at an actual wedding. I am not so much interested in matrimony, though: I’m interested in relationships, be they familial, romantic, platonic, queer, any and all types of relationships, of which marriage is but one of many ways that pili humans together.
As you join us for the next couple hours, I invite you to think about your own pilina that you have with loved ones. I invite you also to think of your pilina with places you love. I spent a lot of summers growing up at my Uncle David Shiigi’s bromeliad farm outside of Hilo. Taking plane rides with my Grandma Eloise from our Pearl City suburban home over to not-so-suburban Moku o Keawe was an adventure I loved taking.
Reading this wonderful adaptation by Aunty Jackie Pualani Johnson, I am reminded of an island and specific ‘āina I love very much. I grieve how un-pono our collective relationship with ‘āina sometimes is, reflecting on our society’s unfaithful pilina with nature. When I think of elemental spirits like O Big One and Tita Nina fighting, making everything all hulihia, I think of the powers that be and how they have treated Mauna a Wākea, Kapūkakī, and other places across the pae ‘āina, and how they have made those places all kine hulihia. How do we contribute to this harm? How do we recover and restore? I wonder about the path forward.
I am excited for you to take a trip of the imagination to Honomū, an ahupua‘a that Akaka Falls calls home, the land where Aunty Edith Kanaka‘ole was born, and the area where one of my haole ancestors owned a sugar plantation. Maybe you will hear something in the story, the music, or even the silence that will move your heart, or maybe you will see a moment to encourage your spirit toward aloha ‘āina, whatever that may look like for you. Or maybe you will enjoy seeing all kine kapakahi stuff and laugh, seeing a reflection of our shared humanity in all its absurdity, vulnerability, and ‘e‘epa-ness.
Mahalo for supporting local theatre! FYI everyone performing tonight (the crew included) put this on with joy and ‘e‘epa-ness, without pay. Before you leave tonight, consider the ways you could support our community, thru resources or time or talent. I would love to talk story with ways you may be able to contribute to the growth and further enrichment of the arts here in Honolulu.
In his years teaching, creating, promoting and performing theater in Hawai‘i, Professor Knapp touched thousands of lives. While he tackled a wide variety of theatrical projects, it was Professor Knapp’s boundless joy for teaching and presenting Shakespeare that we hope to honor with this festival. It is our sincere wish that our affection and respect for our beloved teacher finds a voice in these productions. The Hawaii Shakespeare Festival is dedicated to Terence Knapp.
—R. Kevin Garcia Doyle, Tony Pisculli, Harry Wong III
Dame Judi Dench, Companion of Honour by the Queen’s personal gift and Britain’s Most Outstanding Actress (as voted by her peers) has consented to be the Patron of the Hawaii Shakespeare Festival at the invitation of Terence Knapp.