COURTESY KUMU KAHUA
Puamana Crabbe, top, Lindsey Shannon and Jessica Haworth have key roles in Kumu Kahua's production about the powerful Hawaiian goddess, "Pele Ma."
Tales of Pele
Sending your hot younger sister on a long trip to the other end of an island chain to pick up your boyfriend could be asking for trouble -- even if you are the volcano goddess, devourer-of-islands and woman-of-changing-forms.
On stage: 8 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays, and 2 p.m. Sundays, through Feb. 10
Place: Kumu Kahua Theatre, 46 Merchant St.
Admission: $16; $13 Thursdays. Discounts available for seniors, students, groups of 10 or more, and the unemployed
Call: 536-4441 or visit kumukahua.org
This is one of the lessons to take away from Kumu Kahua's "Pele Ma," a collection of stories about the famed Hawaiian goddess that opens this weekend.
Director John H.Y. Wat has adapted Frederick Wichman's 2001 book, "Pele Ma: Legends of Pele from Kaua'i," in two acts.
He opens with stories that explain the circumstances that brought Pele to the Hawaiian islands, and her experiences searching for a suitable home once she arrived here. The second act focuses on what is probably the best known Pele tale of all: how she fell in love with Lohi'au, ruling chief of Kauai, and persuaded her youngest sister, Hi'iakaikapoliopele, to go to Kauai and bring him to the Big Island.
Puamana Crabbe and Lindsey Shannon share the role of Pele, Jessica Haworth is Hi'iakaikapoliopele and David Hashisaka is Lohi'au. Kumu Kahua veteran Aito Simpson Steele is Kamapua'a, one of Pele's adversaries in the stories that comprise Act 1.
Oli (chant) and hula choreography by Michael Nalanakila'ekolu Casupang are certain to add to the Hawaiian ambiance.
Anyone new to Hawaii and its indigenous culture should take note that no Hawaiian god or goddess, demigod or legendary hero occupies a more prominent place in contemporary island culture than Pele, and the story of Pele, Hi'iaka and Lohi'au never loses its appeal. Pualani Kanaka'ole Kanahele, Nalani Kanaka'ole and Halau O Kekuhi included it last spring on "Hi'iaka I Ka Poli O Pele," an album of chants about the goddess and her family, and included additional information at edithkanakaolefoundation.org.
Puakea Nogelmeier recently completed translating and annotating a century-old version of "Ka Mo'olelo a Hi'iakaikapoliopele" as it appeared in the Hawaiian-language press; the English-only version is more than 400 pages long, the version with both languages proportionately longer.
For those who don't speak Hawaiian and can't commit to a lengthy, albeit fascinating, read, "Pele Ma" explains Hawaii's best-known romantic triangle in English and in less than an hour. That's more than enough of an introduction to get anyone interested in learning more about Pele, Hi'iaka and Lohi'au -- and Kamapua'a too.