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Hawaiian play receives national grant

By Staff | Aug 22, 2013

Gary Kubota’s play “Legend Of Ko‘olau” will be staged at the Maui Arts and Cultural Center’s McCoy Theatre on Nov. 6.

KAHULUI – Former Lahaina News Editor Gary T. Kubota has received a national grant to produce his play about a historically based Hawaiian cowboy who struggles to keep his family together near the time of the overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy in 1893.

The National Performance Network of New Orleans awarded the grant to help to produce the original play “Legend Of Ko’olau” written by Kubota, a Maui resident.

The play premieres at the Maui Arts and Cultural Center’s McCoy Theatre on Nov. 6, then goes on a Hawaiian Islands tour to Aloha Theatre on the Big Island on Dec. 29, Waimea Historic Theatre on Kauai on the March 1 weekend and Hawaii Theatre in Honolulu on the May 16 weekend.

Tickets on Maui will be on sale at the MACC starting in September.

The “Legend Of Ko’olau” is about the paniolo cowboy Kaluai Ko’olau, who, along with his son, contracts Hansen’s disease.

To avoid being taken to an isolated settlement on Molokai, Ko’olau and his family flee to a remote north Kauai valley, only to be pursued by a deputy sheriff and then deputies and soldiers of the new government that recently overthrew the Hawaiian monarchy.

Kubota said the play, based on his archival research more than 30 years ago, is different than other stories about Ko’olau, because it’s told from the point of view of Ko’olau.

“I thought it was important to have a Hawaiian male portrayed in a lead dramatic role,” Kubota said.

The National Performance Network is supported through funding from the National Endowment For The Arts, Ford Foundation, Doris Duke Charitable Trust, Andrew Mellon Foundation, and Nathan Cummings Foundation.

The National Performance Network, with members from more than 60 theatre and arts centers in the United States, is providing funding to develop the touring aspects of the “Legend Of Ko’olau” play.

“I’m honored to have been selected for this highly competitive grant,” Kubota said.

The one-man play stars Ed Ka’ahea and is directed by Keo Woolford.

Ka’ahea, a Kauai resident and a former member of the comedy group Booga Booga, has acted in dramatic roles at various venues, including Shakespeare In The Park in New York City.

Woolford, who lives in Los Angeles and Honolulu, directed a play about the legendary Maui swimming coach Soichi Sakamoto in 2012 at the David Whang Theatre and East-West Players Theatre, both in Los Angeles.

Woolford also directed the feature film about hula called “The Haumana” that premiered in Los Angeles earlier this year.

Kubota said he was extremely grateful for the pivotal support given by the Maui Arts & Cultural Center and Waimea Historic Theatre to bring this work to stage.

Kubota, who worked as a writer and syndicated consumer columnist for The Maui News in the 1980s, was a crew member and Honolulu Star-Bulletin journalist aboard the double-hulled sailing canoe Hokule’a on its voyage through Micronesia in 2007.

His book about the voyage, “To Honor Mau: The Voyage Of The Hokule’a Through Micronesia,” is written in English, Hawaiian and Satawalese and was selected for inclusion in the Hawaiian language online library Ulukau.org

More details about the play are available at the website www.legendofkoolau.com.