COURTESY BRAD GODA / KUMU KAHUA
From front, clockwise, Jaedee-Kae Vergara, Stu Hirayama, K.C. Odell and Kiana Rivera portray life in the Philippines in Kumu Kahua Theatre's production of Troy Apostol's "Who the Fil-Am I?"
A local theater company delves into the work of a Filipino-American author
Ethnic identity is so central to the self-image of many Hawaii residents that it can be a shock to find that people in other countries define us all as "Americans" regardless of our own hyphenated identities. It may only be three or four generations since our ancestors came here, but returning "home" can end up showing third- and fourth-generation Americans how much we actually have more in common with other "Americans."
'Who the Fil-am I?'
On stage: 8 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays, through Dec. 10
Where: Kumu Kahua Theatre, 46 Merchant St.
Tickets: $5 to $16, with discounts for seniors and students
Playwright/director Troy Apostol "went home" to the Philippines several years ago and puts his spin on the experience in Kumu Kahua's world-premiere production of "Who The Fil-Am I?"
The story follows the experiences of three Filipino-American 20-somethings. Tomas has been there before; he's the only one who speaks Tagalog (the official national language of the Philippines, although not the ancestral language of most Filipinos in Hawaii). Ronald is described in a press release as "a surfer without much desire to experience the world outside Hawaii -- until this trip." The third member of the group, Malcom, "appears to be little more than a jive-talking, beer-guzzling party animal. Personalities clash and tempers flare as the priorities of the trip are heatedly debated."
As with The Actors Group's recent "To U.S. With Aloha and Mabuhay" at the Pearl City Cultural Center, the production will include Philippine dance sequences.
Kumu Kahua will also address the "legacies and challenges" facing Filipinos and Filipino-Americans with two free public presentations during the run:
» "Who The Fil-Am I?: Filipino Americans and Filipino Theatre in Hawai'i": 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at the UH-Manoa Center for Studies, 1881 East-West Road.
» "Who The Fil-Am I?: Filipino Americans and the Philippines": 7:30 p.m. Nov. 21 at Chaminade University Black Box Theatre.