Masters of the Currents

Created by Leilani Chan & Ova Saopeng

Welcome to Hawai'i, the Aloha state – a tropical paradise where everyone gets along. Not! The reality for many residents is much different. Hawai'i’s most recent newcomers come from Micronesia, a subregion of Oceania, comprising thousands of small islands in the western Pacific Ocean. Many have fled their island nations due to environmental and economic pressures. Their path to assimilation is a story that needs to be told. Masters of the Currents will combine community based story collection and social justice practices with devised ensemble techniques to create a theatrical performance built with the involvement of this community.

Inter-island tour 2018


Maui Arts & Cultural Center (MACC) 

McCoy Studio Theater

Saturday, March 3, 2018 at 7:30pm

University of Hawai'i, Hilo (UH HILO)

Performing Arts Center

Thursday, March 8, 2018 at 7:30pm


Calling upon the shared histories of refugees in Hawai'i, Masters of the Currents serves as a creative bridge between new and old immigrant communities. Lead artists Ova Saopeng and Leilani Chan, are working with Kalihi Valley based organizations to create a performance project that uncovers the disconnections in the community, explores their underlying causes and opens an ongoing dialog that seeks sustained healing for this fractured community. During the month of July, the artists and partner organizations will be collecting stories from members of the Micronesian community through interviews, story circles and ensemble workshops. Phase One of this project will culminate in a community celebration and performance. The community leaders, cultural bearers and educators across immigrant groups come together to inform the “Masters of the Currents” theatre production.

“Where is the Aloha?” -Ova Saopeng


This project was made possible with funding by the New England Foundation for the Arts' National Theater Project, with lead funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Masters of the Currents is a National Performance Network / Visual Artists Network (NPN) Creation Fund co-commissioned by Maui Arts & Cultural Center , TeAda Productions , @Brava Theater Center, Pangea World Theater, and NPN. For more information:

Additional support provided by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts , Network of Ensemble Theaters’ Travel & Exchange Network (NET/TEN), and Hawai’i People’s Fund and Kim Coco Fund for Justice of the Iwamoto Family Foundation.

ADDITIONAL SUPPORT from the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs Cultural Grant Program; California Arts Council The Local Impact (LI) program, and the Los Angeles County Arts Commission’s Organizational Grant Program (OGP).


Take a Stand

What is happening in Hawai’i has happened before and is happening all over the world. The Micronesian community is literally following in the footsteps of the Southeast Asian community 40 years ago replacing them as the new wave filling in the very same housing projects and public schools in Kalihi. Upon arrival, these recent arrivals from Micronesia are faced with lack of support and misunderstanding of their plight. They are being blamed for seeking a better life.

Similarly, our nation has responded to international refugee crisis by receiving new refugees from Burma, Iraq, Somalia, and Syria. The response from the general population is often unwelcoming or outright ignorant with calls for refugees to “go back to where they came from,” not realizing there is no place for them to return. In the case of Micronesians, “going back” means returning to uninhabitable islands. For others, it would be to war torn countries. This fear only makes the transition for new arrivals, already reeling from trauma, a much more difficult ordeal. This work will demonstrate the transformative power of theater and create empathy, provide healing and inspiration, create exchange between different ethnic and racial groups and compassion for each other as human beings.

”We believe the ocean does not separate us, it connects us.” - Innocenta Sound-Kikku

Hawai'i Partners

T-Shirt Theatre is a program of the Alliance for Drama Education, a youth based theater company with a 30-year history based at Farrington High School in Kalihi.Their mission is to help Hawaii’s youth rehearse for life to master the skills needed to win jobs, justice and joy.

Micronesian Health Advisory Coalition advocates for the health and well being of Micronesians to improve their quality of life in seeking justice and equality.  As vice president Innocenta Sound-Kikku is a key partner as a community leader. In addition she is the founder of the intergenerational youth program “Pacific Voices” at Kokua Kalihi Valley in Kalihi.

Honolulu Theatre for Youth is a performing arts venue that offers theatre and drama education for young people and families throughout the state of Hawai'i. They produce children's plays, offer education programs & professional workshops.