Kumu Kahua & pidgin

Kumu Kahua is a local theater company that is dedicated to producing plays for and about Hawaii’s people. A number of them are written in “pidgin english,” a local dialect. Until recently, works written in pidgin english were a no-no. (Mitchell’s going to have a field day with this one.) However, high profile theater companies like Kumu Kahua have played an important role in legitimizing pidgin english in the arts. Not surprisingly, I’ve been in Kumu Kahua plays before – but that was a long time ago.

Last week – ten years later – I auditioned at Kumu Kahua for Dennis Carroll’s new play, Age Sex Location. Yeah, is that title hillarious or what? Anyway, I found out a couple hours ago that I was cast. *whew* I was quite nervous because the play is written heavily in pidgin, and honestly, my pidgin sucks. Ok, I don’t sound as bad as Turtle from North Shore. Or half the people on Byrds of Paradise. Or (oh god) the “locals” on Marker. (Haha remember that? Richard Grieco sucks.) But I don’t think I ever sound completely genuine. Apparently, that’s not a problem – plus I can work on it during rehearsals. Anyway, I’m from Kauai, and everyone I know spoke a lot of pidgin. I on the other hand, wasn’t allowed to. For years the educational system in Hawaii tried to stamp out pidgin on the grounds that “speaking proper english was essential to being accepted in the professional world.” Little did anyone know that pidgin would become such a celebrated aspect of local culture; slowly permeating into art, literature and even the educational system.

Anyway, Age Sex Location is about four generations of a local family who buy a computer and slowly become alienated from each other after they start getting into chat rooms and dating services and online gambling. The script is great – it’s smartly written; both disturbing and cool at the same time. The best part is I get to play a 22 year-old. I’m 34. Yes, I almost look that young. *awesome*

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