This year Kamehameha Schools Hawaiʻi High School is honored to present Ka ʻIu O Hoku a historical fiction work based on two plays by the late Clarence Waipa, a retired music teacher from St. Joseph School and former choir director of Hilo Seventh-day Adventist Church, First United Protestant Church, Kamehameha Schools Alumni Chorus of Hilo and Sing Out Hilo.
Ka ʻIu O Hoku involves two 19th century aliʻi related not only through blood, but through the common fate of being both heirs to throne of the Hawaiian Kingdom but never able to reign.
Act One is taken from Waipa’s play Almost a King, and examines the life of William Pitt Leleiohoku II, brother to Kalākaua and Liliʻuokalani, during his early twenties. We see his romantic side through song and hula as he courts a young Margaret Rice, a non-Hawaiian. We meet his hānai mother, Princess Ruth Keʻelikōlani, and his royal sister, Lydia (later known as Liliʻuokalani) as both try to offer him advice on becoming a King and navigating his politically challenging romance. But Leleiohoku’s joie de vivre and optimistic attitude will not be dampened by royal convention.
Act Two, taken from Waipa’s play Kaʻiulani, covers the life of the princess as seen through the eyes of close friend and confidant Robert Louis Stevenson. We see the queen-to-be from her beginnings as a precocious child to a young woman who confronts the American government to restore her kingdom.
Both lives are celebrated through mele and hula, performed in the tradition of the Kamehameha Schools Hawaiʻi as an all-school production involving the entire student body. It will be the school’s 14th Hōʻike.
Music for both plays include music of the time period by and written for the aliʻi portrayed.
The combined plays have been given the title Ka ʻIu O Hoku, by student (and Scotland alum) Kuʻuhiapo Jeong (c/o 2018). In English it is roughly translated “the highest of the star/ the sky”. Both Kaʻiulani and Leleiōhoku were viewed as the highest and most important people at that time (when the Hawaiian Kingdom was at the brick of annexation) as heirs to the throne. The title also cleverly combines their two names.
The plays will be presented Thursday, March 16 and Friday, March 17 at Koaiʻa Gymnasium, beginning at 7pm.