Friday, September 18, 2009
Tonight my son Ryan took me on a "date" to the quaint Kumu Kahua Theatre in the heart of Downtown Honolulu to see The Statehood Project, a live performance with six actors dishing out 18 mini-dramas, each centered around the installment of Hawaii as the 50th state. The U. S. territory was admitted to the Union on August 21, 1959, and this year marks the 50th anniversary of this heated and controversy-ridden event.
Each of the 18 performances offered cutting-edge talent, coupled with raw, mid-Pacific ingenuity. My favorite of them, "Ballad of the Oldest Goat on Kaho'olawe," left me shivering in my seat after the line, "A bomb has no soul." It resonated between me and my almost-all-grown-up boy, and both of us sighed with the rest of the tiny audience in this tiny but sold-out theater when the monologue ended with, "Hawaii cannot attract tourists without Hawaiians."
Our island chain sits dead-center in the Pacific Ocean, surrounded by what geologists call the ring of fire. It's a vulnerable place to live, and over the past 20 years, I occasionally get inundated with these disturbing "what if..." thoughts:
What if the ring of fire explodes at the same time? What if the whole state gets covered by a mega-death tsunami? What if Hawaii loses its statehood and North Korea comes a-knocking? But worst of all: What if my first-born son only brought me, his literary mom, to the theater because he has a two-page expository paper to write up about the production, and he knew I'd be there taking notes?