Kumu Kahua Theatre welcomed donors to private performances of the Sean T.C. O'Malley world premiere of WILCOX'S SHOT on Friday and Saturday nights. The guests were formally welcomed, recognized and thanked and treated to a pre-show announcement of Kumu Kahua's 42nd season, which has yet to be announced publicly.
The audience then watched the critically acclaimed show and were treated to pupu and wine on the Kumu Kahua lanai during intermission and again following the performance. The playwright and artists joined the guests for conversation after the show.
In December 2010, the theater made a public appeal, following cuts in government funding. The theater faced closure following its 40th season. The community responded with $70,000 in donations, saving Kumu Kahua, which now looks forward to presenting its 42nd season of homegrown work and talent.
During the pre-show announcement, new Managing Director Donna Blanchard, who came to Hawai'i specifically to help create sustainable health for the organization, and Artistic Director Harry Wong III, gave brief, impassioned speeches about their gratitude to the donors for their generosity, and their respect for the mission of Kumu Kahua Theatre. Blanchard noted that hearing of the public support for this unique theater greatly influenced her decision to accept her position with Kumu Kahua.
"We're so happy that you get it and that you stood up and insisted that this wonderful theater survive," said Blanchard. "We know we can never thank you enough, but we're happy you're here tonight so we can at least try."
Wong spoke about the founding documents of the organization that include recognition that audience members participate in the creation of the art itself. "Playwrights write their scripts for an audience to see; directors direct and actors act for you," said Wong. "Without you, none of this would be created."
Board President, Jason Kanda then announced the productions slated for the 2012-2013 season.
Then the performance of the well-received production, Wilcox's Shot began. Wilcox's Shot dramatizes the life of RoBert Wilcox, Hawai'i's first Congressional Delegate-and one of the islands' most fascinating historical figures-at the dawn of the 20th century.
During intermissions, the donors ate from a pupu buffet and drank wine provided by the Board Members and staff. On March 30, food was provided by the Board Members and dessert was catered by Grande Café and Bakery. On March 31, Big City Diner catered both intermission and post-show festivities.
Throughout both evenings and continuing through the following week, the theater office has recieved several notes and calls from attendees, expressing gratitude for the recognition and entertainment.
Blanchard commented that this would probably become an annual event and that the staff and Board Members would continue to seek ways to recognize Kumu Kahua supporters and treat them to private honors and events. "We're on good footing now and getting better," she said. "Indeed, we need our donors to survive and will most definitely never forget those who savEd Kumu Kahua Theatre in the darkest hour."
Donations are accepted at the theatre box office and by mail at 46 Merchant Street, Honolulu, HI 96813 and online at kumukahua.org. Box office hours are Monday-Friday, 11:00 AM – 3:00 PM.