Theatre production highlights nuances of an Okinawan family

Noah Nakachi and Victoria Kinard perform in Oriental Faddah and Son – Janine Myers

This month, WCC’s theatre program presents Oriental Faddah and Son, a semi-autobiographical chronicle of the relationship between a father and his son. The play runs March 13 to 22 at Palikū Theatre.

 Based on poems from Lee A. Tonouchi’s award-winning poetry book Significant Moments in da Life of Oriental Faddah and Son, the production investigates what it means to be Okinawan in Hawai‘i, highlighting the values of the Uchinānchu and reflecting on paternal relationships.

“One of the themes is the difference between mainland Asian Americans and Orientals in Hawai‘i,” said director Taurie Kinoshita, who is also a theatre lecturer at WCC. “I find it profoundly beautiful that in Hawai‘i we are lucky enough to have a sense of humor about ethnicity. When we laugh at things together, instead of censoring ourselves, it is empowering. Mainland Asian Americans do not have the luxury of speaking openly about race; here, we can have peaceful conversations without fear.”

Kinoshita knew Tonouchi from the local theatre scene and said she chose to stage his book of poems because his work is both specific yet universal in its themes and that it would allow her student actors to learn to work with language and a strong text.

“ … Lee’s poems are hilariously funny and sometimes tragically, subtly poignant–he can spin the reader from laughter to tears, seamlessly, on a dime,” she said.

Staging a production from a book of poems rather than a script brought new challenges for Kinoshita..

“ … dividing the roles evenly, approaching the text from an actor’s point of view, making the poems visual and theatrical without detracting from the language, and making the theme clear while including a cast of 13 has been quite difficult and therefore tons of fun,” she said.

The cast includes Brandon Hagio, Po‘okela Award recipient for Da Beer Can Hat (Kumu Kahua Theatre), Meenakshi Kutty featured in Once (Manoa Valley Theatre), Manuel A. Moreno, recently in Way of a God (Kumu Kahua Theatre), and Austin Yoshida, seen in Allegiance (Manoa Valley Theatre).

“If you’ve worked with (Brandon) Hagio or seen him in a show, you count him among your favorite actors,” Kinoshita said. “He is fearless and his selfless love of acting is enthralling to watch. All of the actors are stellar–we have an amazing cast.” 

Tonouchi, known as “Da Pidgin Guerrilla,”  is also the playwright of Uchina Aloha, Da Kine Space, and Gone Feeshing, which have all been presented by Kumu Kahua Theatre. Kinoshita most recently directed Stories of Kūpuna at Palikū Theatre, Macbeth for Hawai‘i Shakespeare Festival, and Way of a God at Kumu Kahua Theatre.

To learn more about Theatre 260 and other theatre classes offered at WCC, contact theatre assistant professor Nicolas Logue at 236-9138 or or go online to

Show dates/times

(two weekends only):

March 13–14 and 19–21, 7:30 p.m.

March 15, 21– 22, 3 p.m.

Ticket information:

$10 Students (Youth and college students with ID), Seniors (62+), Military (with ID), UH Faculty/Staff

$15 Adults; Group rates available

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

by Ka ‘Ohana, News Staff