Theatre production shares lessons from kupuna

THEA 260 students perform in Stories of Kupuna: Lights from the Past at Paliku Theatre from Oct. 18 – 26 – Cassidy Patmont

Eleanor Roosevelt said, “Learn from the mistakes of others. You can’t live long enough to make them all yourself.” 

Younger generations will have the opportunity to learn from both the mistakes and triumphs of previous generations at Palikū Theatre on Oct. 18 through Oct. 26 when THEA 260: Dramatic Production presents Stories of Kūpuna: Lights from the Past, a docudrama inspired by the memories and lessons of actual kūpuna of Hawaiʻi.

Heartwarming, comic and tragic, the dramatized stories share valuable wisdom to audiences ages 12 years and older. WCC theatre lecturer Taurie Kinoshita directs the vignettes set in the 1930s through the 2010s, exploring issues that our ancestors faced: racism, same-sex harassment and Hansen’s disease victims ripped from their families. 

Written by Kinoshita and featuring an excerpt from Shipment Day by Lorenzo DeStefano and original scenes inspired by interviews with kūpuna, the play tells us that if we know our history, we can plan for the future. It is an evening of humor, drama and victories.

Kinoshita said the show is dedicated to Terence Knapp, an emeritus professor at UH Mānoa, early member of the Royal Shakespeare Company, Peabody Award winner and known as “Hawai‘i’s World Class Actor.” 

“On Aug. 12, my mentor Terence Knapp passed away,” Kinoshita said. “I was lucky enough to learn from his life stories.”

She added, “I have been so lucky to interview so many amazing and wonderful seniors.  Their lessons and their lives have awed me.”

When asked if the play was biographical, she hesitated, saying: “My primary concern is the students. The student actors and crew need to benefit and learn from the show. They need to be challenged and have relatively equal sized roles. We are the only university campus on O‘ahu that guarantees every single student a good, strong acting role. Therefore, in order to dramatize the interviews, I was forced to focus on the lessons, rather than life details. Otherwise, the play would become a storytelling monologue, not a scene for actors with conflict. Not to mention the fact that we don’t quite have the budget to address all the stunning diversity of these memories.”    

One of the vignettes in the play features the story of former WCC student Donita Garcia who went from a life of abuse and homelessness to becoming president of the Phi Theta Kappa honor society, graduating with a 3.82 grade point average and earning three degrees. She was recently offered a very well-paying counseling job with benefits doing what she wants to do most: giving back to the community. 

Two weekends only:

– Oct. 18 and 25 (Fridays),

7:30 p.m.

– Oct. 19 and 26 (Saturdays),

7:30 p.m.

– Oct. 20 (Sun.), 4:00 p.m.

– Oct. 23 (Wed.), 4:00 p.m.

– Oct. 24 (Thurs.), 7:30 p.m.

Ticket information:

– $10 Students (12+ and

college students with

ID), Seniors (65+),

Military (with ID)

– $15 Adults; Group rates


Purchase tickets online at or call 235-7315 for more information.

by Micah Souza, Special to Ka ‘Ohana