“Danju Kariyushi” played to a sold out audience that experienced laughter, tears, nostalgia, history, and connection to identity. Stories that many had heard in bits and pieces unfolded on stage and connected pieces that brought closure to some and enabled others to fit in the missing pieces to understand stories they had heard before.
Short clips of Okinawan style “kageki” or musical play drama, were incorporated and brought back fond memories to many in the audience that remember “shibai” that cam to Hawaii in the past and played at places like Farrington and Mckinley Auditoriums. “It’s been so long since I saw shibai”, said one lady. “Those scenes brought me back to the time,
and I could feel the emotion” The audience didn’t know what to expect as characters entered from random areas, as the whole theater was used as the stage. The most awesome experience was the bonfire that looked so real and had smoke that rose and moved as if the message was being sent to the departing boat. Norman’s masterpiece was really something that people will talk about and remember.
Ukwanshin sends out its “Nifwe Debiru”, to Terry Sensei and Taiko Kai, for initiating this show, and inspiring a new challenge. Kudos also to the Young Okinawans of Hawai`i for their hard work and time in bringing to the stage “all male” local young men for Okinawan dance, and in representing the continuation of our culture for the future generation. Also to Terry Sensei’s two karate assistant sensei, Chris Lau, and Kevin Sakamoto in joining in with the Young Okinawans. Terry Sensei’s family also is commended for their hard work and time, and putting up with all the stress. Lee, Terry sensei’s daughter, did great in taking lead as stage manager. That task for such a complicated script was one that not many were vying
for. Thanks so much Lee. Ty, Terry sensei’s son, did a great job in leading the stage crew to have props on/off on time, and in working order. Mahalo again to Ty and the stage crew! Thanks to Jamie Oshiro for her always soothing and heart connecting voice and narration and is so important to the connection to the audience and emotion. Back stage assisting with costume and make-up was Jimpu Kai’s Yuki Shiroma and Grace Carmichael, as well as Teshin Kai’s Junko Bise, who helped with hair for some cast members. Kyra Tila, won the
hearts of the audience in her role as the little girl being sold. My students Takao Miyazaki, Shizue Afuso, and Hitomi Takahashi were absolute in their dance accuracy, as well as being flexible with other roles they were put into on short notice. Keith Shimabukuro brought us to realizing the distrought and loss as LooChoo’s king. He also reminded us of how hard the luna were on the plantation workers. Mako Willet added emotion with her voice, and came to join us all the way from Seattle. Christina, and Miki were also calm and excellent in adding to extra scenes. Christina’s weaving prop also was intricate and added to that short clip. The jikata, as usual..(Keith Nakaganeku, Derek Fujio, Derek Shiroma, Lynn Miyashiro, Richie Yamashiroya, Ka`eo Shiroma, Travis Oshiro) gave the traditional sounds and connection to music our ancesotrs have passed on to us. Norman’s lack of sleep, props, insistance to perfection, and foresight, is always a blessing and priceless as Co producer, director, musical director and technical director. Thank you to all the others such as ushers and volunteers who we couldn’t have done this without.
Mostly, “Ippe Nifwe Debiru” goes out to all of you who supported us and came to experience our
story…well not really our story, but the story of our ancestors. “Uyafwafuji…ippe nifwedebiru!” We should all now understand that we must work hard, and some suffering in our lives cannot compare to what those before us have experienced.
Please continue to keep in touch with us as we look forward to presenting you with more “adventures’.