Founded by University of Hawai‘i graduate students in 1971, Kumu Kahua Theatre has grown into an established nonprofit theater that has influenced hundreds of actors, playwrights, directors, technicians and community members.
Plays about life in Hawai‘i: The theater educates and trains new generations of aspiring theater professionals through its “living laboratory” of productions and public play readings, and by holding classes and workshops in acting, improvisation and playwriting. Top Hawai‘i actors such as Jason Scott Lee, alongside a core of Kumu stage veterans such as Dann Seki and Wil Kahele, have performed at Kumu Kahua.
Plays by Hawai‘i’s playwrights: Since the 1970s, the theater has co-sponsored the University of Hawai‘i’s annual historic play competition started in the 1930s. And the theater has produced the first stagings of work by star island playwrights such as Lee Cataluna, Victoria Nalani Kneubuhl, Darrell Lum, Edward Sakamoto and Lee A. Tonouchi.
Plays for Hawai‘i’s people: Kumu Kahua productions—such as James Grant Benton’s Shakespeare adaptation Twelf Night O Wateva! in 1974, Edward Sakamoto’s Aloha Las Vegas in 1992 and Lee Cataluna’s Folks You Meet in Longs in 2003—have become cultural touchstones for island residents.
Kumu Kahua productions are supported by the State Foundation on Culture & the Arts, celebrating more than thirty years of culture and the arts in Hawaii (with funding from the National Endowment for the Arts); The Annenberg Foundation; the Mayor’s Office of Culture & the Arts; paid for in part by the taxpayers of the City & County of Honolulu, the Hawaii State Legislature, and Foundations, Businesses & Patrons.