MicroFest: Honolulu - Theater and Society in the Center of the Sea
Sonny Ganaden—printmaker, lawyer, writer, and resident of Honolulu—weaves history and issues of contemporary Hawai`i to offer context for MicroFest: Honolulu’s look at the role art and artists play in creating and sustaining healthy communities. Keeping in view the U.S. overthrow of this once sovereign monarchy, Ganaden points out that many residents of Honolulu consider their home neither isolated nor American (two descriptors used to describe MicroFest’s various host cities). As he recounts various sessions, Ganaden appreciates the values underpinning ensemble theater work, and NET’s approach to local relationship building as guests of Hawai`i, and acknowledges participants’ listening, respect, and propensity to “get it” (it being the culture and politics of place that is uniquely Hawai`i). A visit to a primary charter school whose students are restoring the flora and fauna of the Wakiki Forest informs how the native education movement sought to return to an `āina (earth)-based knowledge and to recover historical antecedents of self-education, while also building an indigenous Hawaiian cultural base. Those who joined Kumu Hula Vicky Takamine Holt and her halau learned about the connections between hula, Hawaiian language, and community organizing in Hawai`i. Ganaden contextualizes the powerful Los Angeles Poverty Department’s theater presentation and session emerging from LAPD’s work with homeless individuals on Skid Row in Los Angeles with Hawai`i’s lack of progress on the issue of homelessness and activists’ response through (de)Occupy Honolulu protests. Ganaden takes note throughout the MicroFest experience of intentional muddying of conceptions of power and what it means to be a part of theater in America, and the circumscribed and creative ways in which those involved with theater in America describe themselves.