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46 Merchant St
Honolulu, HI, 96813
United States



Kumu Kahua Theatre Comes to the Aid of The ARTS at Marks Garage

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A few weeks ago, Rich Richardson, Executive Director of The ARTS at Marks Garage approached our Managing Director, Donna Blanchard, and asked for help; The ARTS was struggling to keep their doors open.  Donna was able to figure out a way to lend a very meaningful hand, by making Kumu Kahua Theatre a sponsor of The ARTS at Marks Garage.

A note from Donna:

We are not so wealthy that we can write checks without very careful consideration... and this was too important for us not to figure out a way to get involved.  Chinatown is ever evolving and we and Marks are vital cornerstones here, helping to shape that evolution.  I was able to use funds already budgeted for marketing to plug the hole in the dam, as it were.  Frankly, the amount of coverage we've already gotten from a large story in Pacific Business News and a story by Mike Cherry on KITV news, would have cost WAY more than we spent.  That has already been a win/win situation.

Rich and I continue to work together to seek further sponsorships, grants and other support for both of our organizations, and exciting ways in which we can collaborate.  We're elated to be working together and believe that this alliance is going to open doors to vital support for both of us.  We both work hard to break even each year and hope neither of our organizations ever considers closing our doors because of finances again.

As our patrons and stakeholders, I want you to know that we are so very grateful for your support of Kumu Kahua Theatre, and we hope you know you can trust that we will continue to be good stewards of that support.

If you or your business would like to support this alliance, please send me an email.  We have a lot of ways for you to be involved in this awesome-ness.

If you'd like to read the press release about our alliance, click here.

Thank you for supporting this amazing organization I am so very grateful to be a part of!

Much Aloha,
Donna Blanchard


My Boy He Play Ball
by Tammy Haili‘ōpua Baker

Tammy Haili‘ōpua Baker, the pioneering author of Lā‘ieikawai and Kamapua‘a, returns to Kumu Kahua after more than 15 years with a funny, deeply-rooted story of fathers, sons, and modern Hawaiian identity.

Boy Kahalewai is living the dream: a Division I football scholarship at a mainland college, a chance to play pro, a loving family back home. But as he struggles with intense pressure from his father and awakens to his Hawaiian roots. Boy starts to wonder whose dream he’s been living all along.

The cast includes Kumu Kahua Theatre veteran, Will Ha‘o, who has appeared in, Kāmau A‘e, Flowers of Hawai'i, the underneath, and last season's Ka'iulani.  He’s joined for this production by experienced newcomers to KKT, Anette Aga, Kenny Kusaka, LeGrand Lawrence and Taylor Purvis. 


3-Play and 4-Play Subscriptions

If you haven't subscribed to our 45th season yet, there's still time!  We've got amazing shows coming up this year and subscriptions save you money, guarantee your tickets and support our work!

Sign up here...

Auditions and Workshop

Open auditions will be held to cast the world premiere of Not One Batu by Hanna Ii Epstein.  The show will be directed by Harry Wong and runs January 21 – February 21, 2016.


Music, Class, Improv and Chekhov

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So Much Going On!

Our riveting production of Joker continues it's run here at Kumu Kahua Theatre.  We've also got Improvaganza, a new workshop, an acclaimed Maori quartet, Anton Chekhov and our play contest winners to tell you about!


Critically Analyzing a Theatrical Performance

We're offering a new experience at Kumu Kahua Theatre.  Playwright, Director and Actress, Taurie Kinoshita will discuss Joker as she guides us throiugh a free workshop on critical analysis of theatre.   

What is the difference between Matisse and a child's finger painting?  Is all art "just a matter of opinion"?  This promises to be an exciting and provocative conversation aimed at understanding What Makes a Play Great and how to become a more enlightened theatre-goer.

This workshop will take place immediately following our Thursday, October 1st performance and should last approximately one-hour.  No need to reserve a spot for the workshop, just see the show that night and stay, or come to the theatre around 10p to join us.

If you are interested in an additional workshop prior to the show on Sunday, October 4th, please send me an email and we will notify you where that will take place (it will begin at 12:30p).


Play Contest Winners Announced

Congratulations to the winners of the Kumu Kahua Theatre and University of Hawaii at Manoa Theatre and Dance Department annual playwriting contest!

Hawaii Prize
Typeepee: A Romance of the South Sea
Kemeul DeMoville

Resident Prize
Chicken Fight
Lee A Tonouchi


Michael Chekhov Acting Technique Workshop

Kumu Kahua Theatre will hold a two-day intensive workshop on the Michael Chekhov acting technique in September.

Michael Chekhov was the nephew of playwright Anton Chekhov and was Stanislavsky’s ‘most brilliant pupil.’ He was known as one of Russia’s most talented and innovative actors, who intrigued his audiences with his imaginative and genuine character interpretations. After his exile from Russia and stays in Germany, France, England, he settled in America, where he continued his pioneering work.  More...

Improvaganza Returns to Kumu Kahua Theatre

A part of our Dark Night series, we're very excited about co-hosting Improvaganza again this year with The ARTS at Marks Garage, on September 24-27!

Hawaiʻi's only international festival dedicated to improv comedy and improvised theatre attracts improv groups from all over the globe to our little corner of Chinatown. In past years, Improvaganza has welcomed improvisers from ‘Aiea, Austin, Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Kailua-Kona, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, New York, Phoenix, Seattle, San Francisco, Melbourne, Australia; Auckland, New Zealand; Turin, Italy; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Stockholm, Sweden; and Tokyo, Japan.

We can't wait to see who visits us this year!  More...


Dark Night Performance

New Zealand’s acclaimed Modern Maori Quartet is heading to Honolulu this month for two performances.

The Maori foursome performs their signature cabaret show, An Evening with the Modern Māori Quartet on Monday 21 and Tuesday 22 September at Kumu Kahua Theatre, Honolulu.

Filled with waiata (song), humour and charm, Modern Māori Quartet offer a fresh take on classic Māori showbands, crooning their spin on modern and classic numbers.  More...


Joker by Yilong Liu

Joe is unable to let go of a lover who has passed away, which negatively affects his current relationships. He begins to harbor resentment and becomes a man who causes pain not only to himself, but to all those close to him.

Love, secrets and betrayal abound in this realistic look into lives touched by fear of exposing one man’s love for another.

2015 Po'okela awards: Leading Male in a Play: Jason Kanda in Joker and Special Adjudicator Award for Yilong Liu: Original Script, Joker!

Denise Aiko Chinen and Jason Kanda in Joker
Photo by Denise De Guzman


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Don't Let Your Holiday End - Celebrate the Independence of Hawai'i's
Kumu Kahua Theatre on July 7th!

This year our big event will be held off-site while work is being done at the theatre. We're partnering with Ferguson's Pub -- part owner Don Murphy has always been a generous supporter of Kumu Kahua Theatre, and we're really happy to have this opportunity to share his "other" establishment. We'll be in the beautiful Dillingham Transportation Building on Bishop and Queen, in the courtyard and atrium.

Also, we're having the event on a weeknight, pau hana. Can you believe a lot of people who work downtown still say "I didn't know there was a theatre there?!"  We hope some of them will come for the party and get to know us.

You're part of what makes Kumu Kahua Theatre so awesome - come celebrate with us!  Tickets are only $35for dinner, two drinks, live entertainment, and a great silent auction. as well as the opportunity to support our unique work in the community."  Tickets are available online, through our Board Members, and our box office.

We also have sponsorship opportunities for businesses and groups who would like something a little special.  Packages include food and drink tickets, parking, recognition, advertising, and theatre passes.  What an awesome way to treat your guests AND your theatre!

Hope to see you there!

Shoyu on Rice Returns!

Shoyu on Rice, by Scot Izuka will return to Kumu Kahua Theatre July 16 - Aug 2, 2015!

If you have a Viewers' Choice pass, you can use it for this production, and we'd like to extend a discount to our subscribers: when you call the box office to order, you'll receive $5 off each ticket.  

Please remember, ticket prices are a ittle higher than our regular season productions ($10-$30).    

Tickets are on sale now.  Tell all of your friends to come see this funny, sweet, and moving show.

Special Note: we heard your requests and are happy to announce that we're brining back the much-loved show: Aloha Las Vegas by Ed Sakamoto next summer!


Joanna Mills, Kimo Albarado, Bronte Amoy and Shawn Vasconcelles in Shoyu on Rice 2014
Photo by Orrin Nakenelua

Our 45th Season

For the second year, we enjoyed our season announcement and kick-off at Kaka'ako Agora during their June Ka-Boom festivities.  We enjoyed popcorn and adult beverages while hearing Managing Director, Donna Blanchard welcome everyone and Artistic Director, Harry Wong tell us about the shows.  

Board President, Dann Seki led us all in a toast for the new season, then Office Manager and Director, Wil Kāhele introduced actors who gave a table-reading of the first show of the season, Yilong Liu's Joker.  Tune in to OC16 this Sunday, July 5th, at 10:30 PM to see Jay Fidell of ThinkTech Hawaii cover the event and interview some of our artists and attendees.

Our season brochures are currently under production, but you can read about the shows and see the awesome show logos created by Ryan Higa on our website.  Tickets and season subscriptions are available now.  


Lee Tonouchi's Echoes of Dat Red Guitar

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Minnie Quan, Wil Kahele and Alvin Chan in:

Echoes of Dat Red Guitar

by Lee Tonouchi

Photo courtesy of Denise De Guzman

In consideration for all of our patrons' enjoyment and safety, we do not allow late seating.  
Please arrive at the theatre no less than 15 minutes prior to curtain time.

This production may not be suitable for more sensitive viewers.

What people are saying about Echoes of Dat Red Guitar

Hawaii author and playwright Lee Tonouchi has been known for years as “Da Pidgin Guerrilla,” but his newest play, Echoes of Dat Red Guitar, is much much more than another pidgin comedy for local consumption. On stage at Kumu Kahua Theatre through the end of June, it is stunning, beautifully written contemporary American theater. It is also one of the most impressive community theater productions of the 2014-2014 theater season.  --John Berger, Honolulu Star-Advertiser

Sometimes all the right ingredients come together. I would watch [Echoes of Dat Red Guitar] EVERY weekend! --Kiana Rivera  (actress in KKT production: My Name is Gary Cooper)


Now Playing

Hawai‘i’s “Pidgin Guerrilla” returns to Kumu’s stage with a darkly humorous play about a bright but unmotivated man still living at home with his parents who berate him for his lack of ambition. He gets a job in a state office populated with memorable characters, including a bully, nerdy techies, a born-again Christian sex bomb, and a haole boss who stresses “community” and “teamwork.” When impending state furloughs threaten his employment, will he be able to summon his personal `aumakua, the Japanese superhero Kikaida? Or will the pressure drive him to go postal?

Our Season Announcement

No, we can't tell you now, but we would like you to join us for the season announcement at Kaka'ako Agora onTuesday, June 16th.  We'll announce the season and share a glass of wine together to kick off the evening, then enjoy a table reading of our season opener, Joker by Yilong Liu.

We're elated to share this evening with you at Agora.  It's a unique, artistic space that welcomes us all... and using that space allows us to continue with rehearsals and regular business of our space at Kumu Kahua Theatre!

Save the Date - Tuesday, July 7th

Kālābash, our annual fundraiser, is getting a bit of a new look and feel this year!  Because we have some repair work to do in our hallway, we'll be holding Kālābash at Ferguson's Pub and the Dillingham Transportation Building courtyard.  Many thanks to our partners, Don Murphy and Brian Blair for helping to make this happen.  It's going to be a really awesome night!  

Watch for more information coming soon.  For now, seriously, save that date for Kumu Kahua Theatre, and tell all of your friends, please.  We hope to see you there!

More about Echoes of Dat Red Guitar

I strongly advise everyone to go see "Echoes of Dat Red Guitar by Lee A. Tonouchi" at Kumu Kahua Theatre. This fabulous script is brought to life by a truly gifted director and captivating cast. --Joanna Mills (actress in KKT production: Shoyu on Rice)

The production achieves a highly satisfying and disturbing level of cohesiveness that is rare to experience. I attribute it to the guidance, trust, artistic integrity, and dedication of all involved in this show that is definitely not to be missed. --Eleanor Svaton

Summer Re-Mount

Many of you have asked what show we will re-mount this summer... and frankly... most of you have begged us to bring Scot Izuka's Shoyu on Rice back. Okay - we're happy to do that for you!  

Shoyu on Rice will return from July 16 - Aug 2, 2015!  

The additional cost of a re-mount goes beyond our annual budget, so ticket prices are a ittle higher than our season productions ($10-$30).  But because we really, really want you to come back and enjoy the show again, you can get discounted tickets at our usual rates ($5-$20) through June 21st.  

Tickets are on sale now.  Please tell all of your friends!!

Joanna Mills, Kimo Albarado, Bronte Amoy and Shawn Vasconcelles in Shoyu on Rice 2014
Photo by Orrin Nakenelua

More about Echoes of Dat Red Guitar

Echoes of Dat Red Guitar, playing at Kumu Kahua Theater, is perhaps the best show I've seen. The writing truly fulfills the Kumu mission of by, for, about the people of Hawaii--it feels relatable, immediate, truthful. The direction, acting, and design is superb. It's funny and poignant and f***** up. --Marcus Lee


We'll be holding auditions for our season opener, Joker by Yilong Liu on Saturday, June 20 from noon to 3:00PM and Sunday, June 21 from 10:00AM to noon.  There will be a free audition workshop on Saturday, June 13 from 2:00 to 4:00PM. The show will be directed by Wil Kahele.  For more information, please visit our website.

Season Brochure

Have you received USPS mail from us over the last year?  We will be sending our season brochure soon and want to make sure you receive yours.  If you didn't receive one last year, or have moved since then, please email your mailing address to our Office Manager, .

The Kumu Kahua Theatre Board of Directors would like to thank all the individuals who support our annual fundraiser, Kālā-Bash 

BRASSERIE DU VIN (we're so sorry you're gone!)



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Summer Royal, Amanda Stone and Domina Hoffman in:


by Dennis Carroll, Victoria Nalani Kneubuhl, Robert Nelson and Ryan Page

Photo courtesy of Denise De Guzman


In consideration for all of our patrons enjoyment and safety, we do not allow late seating.  
Please arrive at the theatre no less than 15 minutes prior to curtain time.

Now Open!

Within the short life of Princess Ka‘iulani is contained the sad, shameful story of the downfall of the Hawaiian Kingdom. She was sent to Europe to receive an education befitting her royalty, but during her absence the monarchy was abrogated and she returned to Hawaii a figurehead rather than a queen. Ka‘iulani is a historical-musical-psychological drama complete with a Greek/Hawaiian chorus and a Hawaiian chanter. The play, which portrays the princess during three different phases of her life, originally premiered at Kumu in 1987.

Daniel Akiyama asked Victoria Nalani Kneubuhl about her experiences writing the show.  Here's what she said:  

Ryan [Page] and I were both graduate students at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa when we worked on this script. Dennis Carroll was our playwriting teacher and our mentor, and I was thrilled to be part of the collaboration. Prior to this I had written a one-act play (Veranda Dance, Ryan directed a production in the Lab Theatre) and one full-length play on my own, so I was a very new playwright. Bob Nelson had submitted a libretto for an operetta about Ka’iulani. Dennis had the idea of turning it into a play, a “cantata” for the theatre. I think the sequence of events followed what was in the libretto with some other event additions. I wrote most of the scenes with Ka’iulani and her mother. I wrote the Maile and Jane monologues. Some, but not all, of the more poetic things I edited from the libretto. Dennis was the one who took our collective writing and put together the final version. He had a definite directorial vision that he shared with us, and we wrote with his vision in mind.

(continue reading here...)

Then Daniel asked Ryan Page about his experiences.  Here's what Ryan had to say:

The impetus to do the play came from Robert Nelson, who sent Kumu Kahua the original submission in 1986, a sort of closet play in verse form. Dennis thought the work in Nelson’s form was unstageable, but liked the material enough that he proposed adapting it from Nelson’s text. So Vicky [Kneubuhl], Dennis, and I all began mapping out and writing scenes, trying to retain something of Nelson’s poetic treatment and presentation, but at the same time enlarging the whole into something more inherently dramatic in nature. Dennis took all of this material and assembled it into a working script, which I then went through with a red marker, cutting inessential bits here and there, moving scenes about in a couple of cases, and making further suggestions related to performability. Dennis then took this final version into rehearsal, and developed a remarkable production from it, the finest piece of directing I saw from anyone at Kumu during my years (1983-88) there.

(continue reading here...)

Kumu Kahua Theatre Managing Director, Donna Blanchard, interviewed Victoria on her talk show, Center Stage.  They talked about the inception of the script throuh production, remounts, tours and this revival, as well as Victoria's background and continued writing career.  You can watch the video here.

The Kumu Kahua Theatre Board of Directors would like to thank all the individuals who support our annual fundraiser, Kālā-Bash 

BRASSERIE DU VIN (we're so sorry you're gone!)