As original plays about Hawai’i by Hawaiian playwrights unfold within the spare, black walls of Kumu Kahua’s intimate 100-seat theatre, changing perceptions about life in these islands are unforgettably altered.

“It’s a risk to do new works, but when you stop that, art dies,” says the always thoughtful and candid artistic director Harry Wong. “At Kumu I get to do plays I think are important and need to be heard.”

Like this 39th season’s first, The Statehood Project, a powerful commentary developed by in-house with local playwrights and poets to uncover diverse perspectives on statehood’s impact; or, Eric Yokomori’s House Lights and Prolonged Sunlight, which investigates the human condition via expertly nuanced scenes in the tradition of the theatre of the absurd. (Of course, this March and April you’ll be treated to a revival of Steven Goldsberry’s narrative Maui the Demigod.

You have to let your imagination go when you see a show at Kumu,” says Wong. And, he hopes, after each performance audiences re-enter the Honolulu night exhausted, elated, thinking deeply and differently.

Originally published in Modern Luxury Hawaii 2009