Masters of the Currents
Created by Leilani Chan & Ova Saopeng
Masters of the Currents follows the story of three Micronesian youth who have fled their island nations due to environmental and economic pressures, and who must now overcome conflicts of identity to be accepted by their peers in their new home of Hawai'i while still holding onto the history and rich cultural traditions of their ancestral islands of. Inspired by the stories of Micronesians living in Hawai’i today, Masters of the Currents is a theatrical journey that takes us from remote island nations to urban cities, from ocean water passageways to paved asphalt highways. As the waters of our planet rise, what can we learn from these descendants of the original ocean navigators of the Pacific?
The first nationally touring play about MICRONESIANs in the U.S.
NEXT SHOWING: May,2019 @Pangea World Theater, Minneapolis, Minnesota
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"The residency was so important to our community, to spread awareness of the discrimination Micronesian immigrants are subjected to, especially the youth. The conversation has been started, the university will continue to open dialog with the assistance of other community entities and will continue to insist that tolerance and cultural awareness are a part of the equation. It was a real pleasure to have the Masters of the Currents company in residence for the week.”
--- Lee Dombroski, Performing Arts Center Manager
University of Hawai'i, Hilo
The Creative Process Behind Masters of the Currents
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 combines community based story collection and social justice practices with devised ensemble techniques to create a theatrical performance built with the involvement of this community.
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. Since 2015, the artists and partner organizations have collected stories from members of the Micronesian community through interviews, story circles and ensemble workshops. Phase One of this project has culminated in a community celebration and three week run at Honolulu Theatre for Youth. We had 24 youth performances with a total of 7000 students in attendance, ranging from 4th grade to high school. 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
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
MAHALO TO OUR FUNDERS
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! for Women in the Arts, Pangea World Theater, and NPN. For more information: www.npnweb.org
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).
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.
US Continental Premiere
San Francisco, CA October 2018 at Brava Theater
Kahului, HI - Maui Arts & Cultural Center (MACC) McCoy Studio Theater, March 2018
Hilo, HI - University of Hawai'i, Hilo (UH Hilo) Performing Arts Center, March 2018
Honolulu, HI - Honolulu Theatre for Youth, October 2017