Magazine article American Theatre

Water, Water Everywhere

Magazine article American Theatre

Water, Water Everywhere

Article excerpt

IN HAWAIIAN, THE WORD FOR WATER IS WAI, AND THE word for wealth is waiwai.

"So, essentially, 'much freshwater' is equal to wealth," said Eric Johnson, artistic director of Honolulu Theatre for Youth. The connection between water and culture inspired HTY's newest show, H20: The STORY of Water and Hawaii. The idea to create a play about water began in 2014 when HTY was producing Grinds: The Story of Food in Hawaii. When the topic of food comes up, water is not far behind.

"Obviously we're on a tiny island in the middle of a vast sea," Johnson said. What's more, the "huge cultural importance around water became evident when we were doing our work on the food project."

Following a format HTY has used in several such shows, H20 is a musical devised by the entire company. A six-person cast under Johnson's direction tells Hawaii's history with water through chants, reggae beats, and plenty of the eponymous substance itself--audience members seated in the front rows will be supplied with ponchos. HTY will also bring the show to neighboring islands and, because every island has a different geology, the script will be adapted for each island.

HTY partnered with 10 organizations, among them the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Organization, the Johnson Ohana Charitable Foundation, and Sustainable Coastlines, which provided resources, expertise, community outreach, and even some "water heroes" who will appear in the production.

All is not flowing and blissful where the subject of water is concerned. …

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