house divided

A look inside the original and thrilling play centered around current and future issues of Hawaiʻi

From Oct. 19-23, 2016, Kennedy Theatre will be showing “A House Divided,” a play written and directed by MFA Directing candidate Kevin C. K. Berg. The play utilizes both English and Ōlelo Hawaiian language and centers around issues about Hawaiian sovereignty, domestic terrorism, family and gun violence.

The play is set in a sovereign Hawaiʻi ten years in the future where the provisional Hawaiian government is established as a representative unit for the Native Hawaiian people. While hosting a gala to raise money for the PHG (Provisional Hawaiian Government), a separate Native Hawaiian group called the USNH (United Sovereign Nation of Hawaiʻi) comes to peacefully protest the event. After tensions rise, the conflict peaks when a man pulls a gun from a security guard's holster and takes the gala hostage.

Berg was inspired to write and direct this play when he came back to Hawaiʻi for graduate school and saw the deep divisions between Native Hawaiians and the sovereignty movement. He realized that his son would never know a world pre-9/11, and the generation ten years from now will not know a world without foreign and domestic terror and violence.

“What happens when these young people have something they want to achieve, there's something they want to accomplish, but because they are surrounded [by] violence, they think that is a way to get what they want?” Berg said.

Berg hopes that the students of UH will come to experience his play because he understands that this generation of students are the ones who are dealing and living with the consequences of our current tumultuous social and political climate.

Angie Anderson, an undergraduate majoring in English and Theatre, plays the character “Hoku.”

“Hoku is the daughter of the leader of the USNH. Hoku is effectively their poster child. She is someone who is very loud and proud about her status as a Native Hawaiian and as someone who is fighting for their rights and the sovereign nation.” Anderson said. “She’s a firecracker and is actually the sister of the character who pulls the gun.”

This play opens a discussion about a lot of relevant issues that many people who live in Hawaiʻi are facing today. It serves as a voice for Native Hawaiian people who are often overlooked when it comes to decisions about Hawaii’s future.

“I think that always, always hearing the voice of a native people is important,” Anderson said. “This provides a chance for those voices to be heard which is always an incredible opportunity. We have very talented individuals like Makana Kane, who plays the leader of the USNH.”

Kenny Kusaka, an undergraduate majoring in Theater, plays the character “ Ikaika.”

“My character is Ikaika. He’s a musician and he is one of the members of the USNH that infiltrates the gala. He is a sort of leader,” said Kusaka. “He galvanized and rallies the people and serves as a bridge between the more political figures and the more common, sort of everyday people.”

“A House Divided” aims to shed light on both sides of the Hawaiian Sovereignty movement.

“Our director, Kevin C. K. Berg, one of his focuses was making sure that both sides were represented, and both sides had their ideologies presented in ways that were relatable and in ways that people could get inside and out of, instead of just having a very clear set of good guys, and a very clear set of bad guys,” said Kasuka.

Although the play raises a lot of questions, it does not necessarily try to answer them. The intent is to open a dialogue and have a conversation about these issues that the people of Hawaiʻi face. It is also a reminder that these issues can no longer be ignored and have to be addressed.

“It serves a warning that if we keep going down the road we are going down, these are some of the types of things we can begin to see, or even happen in the future,” Kusaka said.

Both the actors and director want the audience to be aware that there will be a prop gun used in the show. Berg and the PR team have tried to be very open about the prop and understand the controversial nature of using it in the show.

They also want the audience to be aware that there will be a simulated hostage situation, but everything will be under control.

“It [the gun] is an immersive piece and the audience will be apart of the show.” Anderson said.

The situation will be handled with sensitivity, but serves as a reflection and a way of addressing current issues that we see happening today.

Despite the play's focus on serious political issues, it is centered around family.

“[A House Divided] shows how a family can be so splintered, but can come back together as a strong unit, as the unit we need to stand by,” Anderson said.