Folks You Meet In Longs still strikes a chord in Hawai‘i residents

WHAT: Folks You Meet In Longs by Lee Cataluna, a benefit Kumu Kahua Theatre
WHERE: St. Andrew’s Cathedral, Tenney Theatre, 229 Queen Emma Square at Beretania Street
WHEN: July 21-23, 28-30 at 8pm; July 24 and 31 at 2pm
COST: $35
TICKETS AND INFO: 536-4441, www.kumukahua.org

Folks You Meet In Longs, by Lee Cataluna, perhaps Hawai‘i’s best-known and one of its most popular plays, returns to the stage for just eight performances as a benefit for Kumu Kahua Theatre.

Forty-year-old Kumu Kahua is the only theater group in the state that nurtures local playwrights, offering them a sounding board and venue. Without Kumu Kahua, seminal works about Hawai‘i by Hawai‘i playwrights—such as Longs and Edward Sakamoto’s Aloha Las Vegas—would not have have made it to the stage, and into people’s hearts.  Founded in the early 1970’s by University of Hawai‘i graduate students, Kumu Kahua has gained national and international recognition for its regional program.

The production will be held at St. Andrew’s Cathedral Tenney Theatre, allowing more people to have a chance to see the play during its limited run.

Lee Cataluna casts a knowing, affectionate eye on the quirks, foibles and qualities of Hawai‘i “types” and culture through a series of entertaining monologues by fictional, but oh-so-real, staff and customers—cops, aunties, slackers and titas—at Longs. Her ability to poke fun at our island way of life while simultaneously valuing it has made her work a theatrical touchstone for Hawai‘i residents. People who never go to theater make an exception for this hilarious and poignant work.

“I think everyone in Hawai‘i has witnessed little dramatic scenes or comedy sketches in Longs and they carry these moments of theater in their memories,” says Cataluna, who is now pursuing an MFA in creative writing and writing for the performing arts at the University of California–Riverside. “To see the real-life, every day human drama of Longs play out on the stage—or on the pages of the book—is fun because people can more than relate to the monologues, they can add to the collection and they can top the humor or the drama.  The project has taken on a kind of ‘writing prompt’ exercise over the years. Everybody has their own Longs observations and many are way beyond my fictional collection.” 

Even in the age of the big-box discount retailers, Longs remains a timely work, as brand-loyal Hawai‘i residents continue to make the chain their go-to place for everything from toothpaste to gardening gloves.  Longs Drugs is so ingrained in the psyche of the local brain when CVS purchased Longs they quickly realized changing the uniqueness of Hawai`i's Longs would be an error.

Directed by Jason Kanda, who also directed Kumu's sold out show Da Kine SpaceFolks You Meet In Longs stars Sherry Clifton (aka Sista Sherry on radio station KRTR 96), Charlotte Dias, Dawn Gohara, Moses Goods III, Blossom Hoffman, Harrison Kawate, Stephanie Keiko Kong, Aito Simpson-Steele, and Jaedee-Kae Vergara.

This special production of Folks You Meet In Longs is a crucial fundraiser for Kumu Kahua Theatre, as it prepares for its 41st season, which will include an adaptation of Lois-Ann Yamanaka’s book Saturday Night at the Pahala Theatre.

Tickets can be purchased in advance by calling the Kumu Kahua Theatre box office at 536-4441, Mondays to Fridays, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., or at www.honoluluboxoffice.com.

About Kumu Kahua Theatre
For 40 years, Kumu Kahua Theatre has been telling Hawai‘i’s story through plays about these islands, its people, its cultures and contemporary life.  With more than 200 plays to its credit, the theater’s artistic and technical experience attracts some of Hawai‘i’s most talented playwrights, actors, directors, designers and other theatre artists. The audience at Kumu Kahua is treated to the unique experience of hearing their voice on stage and seeing their lives unfold in the action of the play.

Kumu Kahua productions are made possible with support from the State Foundation on Culture and the Arts, celebrating more than thirty years of culture and the arts in Hawai‘i, and the National Endowment for the Arts; The Annenberg Foundation; Paid for in part by the taxpayers of the City & County of Honolulu; the Mayor’s Office of Culture and the Arts; and Foundations, Businesses and Patrons.

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Copyright 2011, Roger W. Tang

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