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 in part by The Hawai‘i State Foundation on Culture and Arts through appropriations from the Legislature of the State of Hawaii and by the National Endowment for the Arts. Also paid for in part by the taxpayers of the City & County of Honolulu; the Mayor’s Office of Culture and the Arts; The Annenberg Foundation, McInerny Foundation (Bank of Hawaii, Trustee); Hawaiian Electric Company; The Star Advertiser and other Foundations, Businesses and Patrons.