Kennedy Theatre celebrates 50 years

Jul. 11, 2013 | 0 Comments


Sex, murder, Chinese opera, a shape-shifting Japanese demon and a modern rewrite on “the oldest Western play known to wo/mankind” are all on the bill as the University of Hawaii-Manoa Department of Theatre and Dance celebrates 50 years of drama, comedy and dance at Kennedy Theatre. The celebration will begin in September and continue through next April.

50th BannerKennedy Theatre was designed by internationally-known architect I.M. Pei. It opened in 1963. The mainstage is the platform for revival productions of classic American and European plays, elaborate presentations of traditional East Asian theater forms performed in English, and big-scale experimental shows. The lab theater presents edgy modern works and experimental productions by students.

The 50th Anniversary season opens on the mainstage in September with “Big Love,” a play described as a “modern take” on “The Supplicants,” a Greek play dating from around 470 B.C. which may have addressed issues involving a law of the time that required widows to marry their deceased husband’s brother or cousin to keep his property in the family.

“The Wild Party,” a look back at Prohibition and entertainers in the 1920, opens Oct. 23 in the Lab Theatre. “Sex, Drugs, Alcohol and Vaudeville!” are named as the themes what is described as a “gritty musical.” Audience members are encouraged wear “Roaring Twenties” attire.

Here’s the complete 50th Anniversary schedule:

Kennedy Theatre Main Stage

» “Big Love”: UHF Professor of Theatre Ian Belton directs a “modern take” on “The Suppliants’ by Aeschylus, “the oldest Western play known to wo/mankind.” Sept. 27-28, Oct. 3-6.
» “Look Back: Move Forward”: Alumni choreographers return with pieces performed by current UHM students. Nov. 15-16 and 22-24.
» “Lady Mu and the Yang Family Generals”: The conflicts between personal ethics and familial and national duty, and the power of youthful exuberance versus the wisdom of age, are the themes of this Jingju (Beijing Opera) performed in English. Feb. 20-23 and Feb. 27-Mar 2.
» “The Very Persistent Gappers of Frip”: What do you do when hundreds of little orange monsters shriek with delight at the sight of your family goat? A musical based on the novel by George Saunders. April 11-12 and 18-20.

Earle Ernst Lab Theatre

» “Identity Crisis”: A dance concert presenting the work of student choreographers. Sept. 27-28 and Oct. 4-5.
» “The Wild Party”: What happens when emotionally vulnerable and sexually hungry performers get together? A “gritty musical” set in the age of Prohibition “based on the poem by Joseph Moncure March.” Oct. 23-27
» “Queens of the Night”: An original cross-cultural play inspired by a double murder in 1933. Nov 16-17 and 22-23.
» “Winter Footholds”: A dance concert presenting the work of student dancers and choreographers. Jan. 29-13 and Feb. 1-2.
» “very still & hard to see”: An architect encounters a Japanese shape-shifting demon while building a hotel and makes a deal that will shape the hotel and the people who stay there. Mar.12-15
» “Spring Footholds”: A dance concert presenting the work of student dancers and choreographers. Apr. 23-27.

For more information, call (808) 956-7655 or visit
John Berger has been a mainstay in the local entertainment scene for more than 40 years. Contact him via email at

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