Perform in English and Hoike in Hawaiian Language. Sit in English and Noho in Hawaiian Language. Release in English and Hookuu in Hawaiian Language. Dance in English and Haa in Hawaiian Language. Hide in English and Pee in Hawaiian Language. Memorize in English and Hoopaanaau in Hawaiian Language. Touch in English and Hoopa in Hawaiian Language. Sing in English and Mele in Hawaiian Language. Appear in English and Oili in Hawaiian Language. Dive in English and Luu in Hawaiian Language. Crawl in English and Kolo in Hawaiian Language. Dance in English and Hula in Hawaiian Language. Balance in English and Kaulike in Hawaiian Language. Bellow in English and Kuo in Hawaiian Language. Breathe in English and Hanu in Hawaiian Language. Extend in English and Hoonui in Hawaiian Language. Embrace in English and Puliki in Hawaiian Language. Flinch in English and Kuemi in Hawaiian Language. Sit in English and Noho in Hawaiian Language. Release in English and Hookuu in Hawaiian Language. Dance in English and Haa in Hawaiian Language.
Hide in English and Pee in Hawaiian Language. Memorize in English and Hoopaanaau in Hawaiian Language. Touch in English and Hoopa in Hawaiian Language. Sing in English and Mele in Hawaiian Language. Appear in English and Oili in Hawaiian Language. Dive in English and Luu in Hawaiian Language. Crawl in English and Kolo in Hawaiian Language. Dance in English and Hula in Hawaiian Language. Balance in English and Kaulike in Hawaiian Language. Bellow in English and Kuo in Hawaiian Language. Breathe in English and Hanu in Hawaiian Language. Extend in English and Hoonui in Hawaiian Language. Embrace in English and Puliki in Hawaiian Language. Flinch in English and Kuemi in Hawaiian Language.

Theatre & Dance Action Plan

Our Ongoing Initiatives

CENTERING ON HAWAIIAN CULTURE

What we are doing

Following the authoring of our Action Plan [see the letter from June 22, 2020 below], we created and adopted a land acknowledgement in the summer of 2020. The reading of this land acknowledgement at our events and the inclusion of it on all of our course syllabi recognizes the complex history of Ko Hawai‘i Pae ‘Āina and the systemic issues perpetuated by settler colonialism. Aligning with our Action Plan and ongoing efforts across the UHM campus to restore Kanaka Maoli narratives and center Kanaka Maoli practices and ways of knowing, we invited Kanaka Maoli scholars to educate our faculty on the political history of Ko Hawai‘i Pae ‘Āina, the development of the University of Hawai‘i, and the ahupua‘a of Waikīkī. Since the establishment of our Action Plan faculty members have led area specific initiatives to engage Hawaiian practices and hana no‘eau (visual and performing arts) in their classrooms, productions, and projects. In the area of design, we organized a series of guest lectures and workshops featuring Lei Hulu with Kumu Mele Kahalepuna Chun and Lauhala with Kumu Keoua Nelsen. As a part of the Hula Ki‘i (Hawaiian Image Dancing and Puppetry) class, we created Ka Unulau o Halāli‘i, a series of guest kumu hula to support the study and practice of Hula Ki‘i. Ka Unulau o Halāli‘i featured Kumu Mauliola Cook, Kumu Hula Kaumakaiwa Kanaka‘ole Kanahele, Kumu Aulia Austin, Kumu Hula Elsie Ryder, Kumu Meleanna Meyer, Kumu Hula ‘Auli‘i Mitchell, and Kumu Hula Snowbird Bento.  Most noteworthy is the further development of Hana Keaka: The Hawaiian Theatre Program, which organized three installments of Ka Pō Le‘a o Halāli‘i, that featured original student and faculty plays, and produced two original productions that bookend our 2021 – 2022 mainstage season; He Leo Aloha (written and directed by Kaipulaumakaniolono) and Ho‘oilina (written and directed by Ākea Kahikina).

In addition to these Kanaka Maoli specific projects, we also featured the plays of Hawai‘i playwright Edward Sakamoto in our primetime season, Hawai‘i nō ka ‘Oi: A Sakamoto Celebration. On the efforts to focus Indigenous knowledge, we hosted a talk on Being Indigenous in the TV-Film Industry by Alex Tarrant. Tarrant’s talk opened the conversation for future collaboration with the Hawaiian Theatre Program. We are also in the planning stages for our department to be involved in Indigenous Stages, a new journal to be published by the Martin E. Segal Theatre Arts Center of the Graduate Center of the City University of New York.

DIVERSIFYING OUR DEPARTMENT BEYOND A WESTERN FOCUS

What we are doing

In line with our commitment to diversifying our department beyond a western focus, we have organized numerous guest lecturers in Theatre including Dr. Anita Gonzalez, Abimbola Adelakun, Maseeh Ganjali, and guest directors like Reiko Ho and Alvin Chan. We have offered new dance courses like Indigenous Dance Studies and Global Hip-Hop, Race, and Indigeneity, and implemented re-imagined design curriculum like Historic Costume and Decor to de-center a western, linear, dominant narrative, and re-center place-based learning through the lens of makers and making. We continue to reevaluate the requirements for our undergrad and graduate curricula in all areas of study. For example, we have revamped the dance curriculum such that BA majors can take 3 credits from any of the Asian and Pacific dance forms and 3 credits from Ballet or Contemporary or Hip-Hop. Patricia Halagao (COE, UHM) and Cheryl Lupenui (The Kohala Center) facilitated a faculty workshop on Hawaiian, Asian, and Pacific Islander focus curricular development. We continue to collect, disseminate, and assign more materials by and for people of color for use in all of our classes.

<See this link for more information>

INVITING ARTISTS, SCHOLARS AND STUDENTS OF COLOR INTO OUR DEPARTMENT

What we are doing

We continue to build stronger bridges between our department and artists, scholars, and students of color both locally and internationally. In 2021, we invited guest instructors Moses Goods, Sammy Choi, and Alvin Chan and organized a Dance Media Now Community Dialogue Project which featured virtual panel conversations with artists in Hawaiʻi who have been incorporating video in their dance performances and creations over the past decade including Sami L.A. Akuna*, Angela Sebastian*, Kumu Vicky Holt Takamine, Kumu Michael Lanakila Casupang, Peter Rockford Espiritu, Larry Asakawa, and more. Following the March 2021 rise in Anti-Asian Hate, we released a statement denouncing the hate crimes, affirmed our promise to advance racial equity and economic inclusion for people of all races and ethnicities, and held a panel on “Social Justice and Connectivities: Dance in/beyond Contemporary Asia”. 

This past year, we hosted a series of graduate Professional Development Workshops facilitated by Dr. Melissa Blanco-Borelli, Dr. Karyn Recollet, Dr. Rosemary Candelario, Dr. Adanna Kai Jones, and Dr. Mana Hayakawa. We also produced Hawai‘i nō ka ‘Oi: A Sakamoto Celebration, which highlighted the works of playwright Edward Sakamoto and featured Hawai‘i community actors. A Symposium was coordinated in conjunction that featured three panels on Asian American Theatre Artists: Representation, Social Change and Community Building, The Contributions and Impact of Playwright Edward Sakamoto, and Directing Sakamoto: Directors’ Perspectives and Production Processes with Leslie Ishii (President, Consortium of Asian American Theater Artists), kt shorb (Vice President, Consortium of Asian American Theater Artists), Taurie Kinoshita (Director/Playwright and Lecturer, Windward Community College), and Harry Wong III (Artistic Director, Kumu Kahua Theatre), and more. We continue to seek faculty of color to serve as T&D Cooperative Graduate Faculty or Affiliate Graduate Faculty and to intensify our efforts to attract a more diverse student body. 

*T&D alumnx 

<See this link for more information>

WORKING FOR INCLUSIVENESS

What we are doing

As a department, we continue to work to create a more inclusive environment in our classes, rehearsal rooms, and performance spaces. Season selection has shifted towards a focus on centering Hawaiʻi, with our 2021-2022 season featuring two new Hana Keaka (He Leo Aloha and Ho’oilina), Hawai’i Nō Ka ‘Oi: A Sakamoto Celebration, and hula performances featuring the choreography of Kumu Vicky Holt Takamine and Peter Rockford Espiritu. Our season planning process continues to evolve with our community values at the forefront of season selection, and we welcome Reiko Ho as a guest director next season (2022-2023).  In working towards becoming better listeners and speakers, the department holds semesterly “Town Halls,” where students can discuss any points of concern that may need to be addressed. The faculty of Theatre and Dance continues to work toward greater unification and integration of coursework, as well as offering new classes such as DNCE/THEA674 (Interdisciplinary Collaborations), DNCE 450 (Indigenous Dance Studies), and DNCE 459 (Topics in Dance: Queer Dance). As we continue forward, we commit to continuing to strive for a more inclusive departmental environment.

Seasonal Planning form – Link to form to come

Until the form is ready – please email your suggestions to onstage@hawaii.edu.

In order to improve our selection process such that it includes student input and reflects our community, we invite students, faculty, and staff to submit feedback and suggestions. In particular, we welcome suggestions that promote diversity, relevance, and contribute to our community. Suggestions will be considered during a season planning forum. 

Climate Survey form – Link to form to come

Until the form is ready – please email your suggestions to onstage@hawaii.edu.

We welcome expressions of concerns, affirmations, and questions from students, faculty, and staff via the climate survey form. The feedback will help cultivate a departmental space of support and care. Please note that the form requires hawaii.edu login but your name and contact information will not be recorded unless selected. 

A letter from the Theatre & Dance Department Chair on June 22, 2020: 

The faculty and staff of the Department of Theatre & Dance realize that the items listed in this Action Plan are only first steps in a process of recognizing, working through, and discarding racist practices and patterns, hegemonies, and power relations in our department. We are well aware that true change will only come through long, hard, and committed work on all of our parts. We also recognize the importance of ongoing and inclusive dialogue, however difficult, in this process going forward. With this in mind, we have identified the following as initial points of development, change, and further discussion. 

CENTERING ON HAWAIIAN CULTURE

  • We acknowledge the history of settler colonialism in Hawaiʻi which for far too long has replaced the indigenous Hawaiian culture with the respective cultures of the settler colonialists (of European, North American, Chinese, Japanese, etc. descent). Our department was founded in the 1960s by white scholars and professionals with expertise in areas they identified as Western and Asian theatre, completely ignoring the theatre of Hawaiʻi and Oceania. Those divisions and omissions have been perpetuated in our current structures and ways of thinking, necessitating rethinking and restructuring. 
  • In addition to the discussion on settler colonialism and the illegal occupation of Hawai‘i Pae ‘Āina by the United States, we must acknowledge all of the Native Hawaiian families that were evicted and displaced from the land we now know of as the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, which sits on stolen lands. Starting this fall, we will begin the practice of Hawaiian land/culture acknowledgements for all of our productions and public events.
  • We will develop and propose a new PhD track in Hawaiian and Indigenous Performance.
  • We will endeavor to serve our community better by staging more hana keaka productions as well as plays by Hawaiʻi dramatists.

DIVERSIFYING OUR DEPARTMENT BEYOND A WESTERN FOCUS

  • Our full-time faculty was almost exclusively white until quite recently. However, many welcome changes have come with the hire of Hailiʻōpua Baker and the creation of a Hawaiian-medium theatre program in fall 2012. Since then we have also hired Peiling Kao in the Dance Program and Peng Xu in the Chinese theatre area. Our most recent hire, Lorenzo Perillo, an expert on Filipino Hip Hop, Asian American Studies, and Critical Race Theory, will start on August 1 in the Dance Program.
  • We will implement changes at various levels of our department, starting with a re-examination of our terminology. As a first step, we are discontinuing our use of the term “Western Theatre program,” and Dr. O’Malley has already resigned her position as Director of Western Theatre.
  • We are reevaluating the requirements for our undergrad and graduate curricula in all areas of study. This includes but is not limited to acting, directing, dance, TYA, playwriting, and design, as well as theatre history, theatre theory, and performance studies. We will restructure so as to be more accepting of a wider range of coursework to fulfill current core requirements, and will work to offer a range of styles and traditions beyond what is currently required. 
  • We will work to collect, disseminate, and assign more materials by and for people of color for use in all of our classes. We will also work to diversify other existing courses with regard to reading assignments, assigned roles, discussion topics, and methodologies/techniques, etc. Adjustments are already being made for the upcoming fall semester.
  • Since the term “Asia” is as problematic as “the West,” we will more specifically acknowledge and include various regional, linguistic, and artistic traditions of South Asia, Southeast Asia, and East Asia.
  • Dance faculty will work on curricular changes to address the disparity in crediting between Asian dance forms, Pacific dance forms, Ballet, and Contemporary Dance. The Dance Program also plans to develop undergraduate and graduate courses that focus on race, ethnicity, and culture as expressed in dance. 

INVITING ARTISTS, SCHOLARS AND STUDENTS OF COLOR INTO OUR DEPARTMENT

  • We will use our guest artist/scholar funds to invite more diverse T&D artists and scholars for future classes, workshops, productions, and public lectures. We will also use those funds to invite T&D alumnx of color living in Hawaiʻi as guest artists and lecturers. We would like to invite students to participate in the committees that identify and invite potential guest artists and scholars.
  • We will seek faculty of color to serve as T&D Cooperative Graduate Faculty or Affiliate Graduate Faculty. The department has approved and is currently processing the nomination of Sai Bhatawadekar as a Cooperating Graduate Faculty member in Theatre.
  • We will intensify our efforts to attract a more diverse student body by exploring the use of scholarships to recruit Native Hawaiian students on neighbor islands and from the Hawaiian diaspora. We will also recruit more students of color both here in Hawaiʻi and at conferences and festivals on the continent.

WORKING FOR INCLUSIVENESS

  • We will work to become a more unified department and to better integrate T&D by expanding the courses we offer as well as their content, and by making courses available to both T&D students.
  • We will also revise our season selection process so that in future seasons it (1) takes into account student voices, (2) promotes diversity and relevance, (3) serves the needs of all of our undergrad and grad students, and (4) contributes to and reflects our community.
  • As the faculty and staff of the Department of Theatre & Dance, we will work to become better listeners as well as speakers to make sure that all voices are heard among and within our various communities and the agency of individuals and groups is recognized.

Aloha,

Markus Wessendorf

(Department Chair)

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Dept. of Theatre + Dance
1770 East-West Rd Honolulu HI 96822
Main Office: (808) 956-7677
Box Office: (808) 956-7655