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.
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.
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.
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.
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