Emmalehua and Ola Nā Iwi

Subject: Art
Pages: 2
Word count: 474
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The play Ola Nā Iwi seams more freelanced about time as compared to the Emmalehua. That is because the author outlines memories of the past in the Ola Nā Iwi as if they are a palimpsest, hence not displacing the emphasis of the present. The plays seek to reclaim an almost forgotten territory of the kupunas’ and their living descendants. Such is confirmed by queen Liliha’s last recitation (in Ola Nā Iwi) where she says that “… and one will leave the great line and slowly come toward me… bending over so softly…  calls back ‘stop and wait, for here is one of our own, come home to us at last’” (Kneubuhl 2001, p. 227). As such, the indeterminacy as to time as evident in the two plays brings about themes such as modernity, racism, as well as traditional exercises and beliefs.

Additionally, the indeterminacy also makes the two works all-time products as they narrate about the present-day supremacy battles amongst different races and beliefs. Equally important, the aspect of ‘play within the play’ is moreover present in the two jobs. However, the play within a play element plays different roles in the two plays. For instance, the ‘three players’ in the sixth scene, act two of the Ola Nā Iwi are both used to economize on the number of actors, and also to illustrate how the Hawaiians have left their culture. On the other hand, the ‘Chorus’ in Emmalehua serves as a complementary in that it completes sentences uttered by the other actors, and also engages them, the other actors, in a manner that they say more to the audience. For instance, when Clearwater tells Kaheka that his, (Clearwater’s) grandfather took him “… out there, to see them, to listen…” It is Chorus who emphasizes the act by saying “Ssh, quit, down deep, listen” (Emmalehua, p. 123) hence complementing and making ‘real’ Clearwater’s point.

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Lastly, the absence of a chronological order with regard to time sequences in Kneubuhl’s work serves as his primary strategy of avoiding narrative conventions as shown by Caroll (2002, p. 123-152). As such, other than mentioning some few particular years when some occurrences took place, the author does not provide further outlines of how key happenings as indicated in the play unveil themselves. Collectively, Kneubuhl’s plays can be said to be seeking to give a sense of belonging to the many Hawaiians who have left their culture thus living a disjointed life as a community. Moreover, the plays also intend to sensitize the Hawaiians that they belong to “… one womb of āina” (Kneubuhl 2001, p. 226) which they should forever be proud of.

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  1. Caroll, Dennis. Hawaii’s Local Theatre. Theatre Drama Review, vol.44, no.2 (2001), pp. 123-152.
  2. Kneubuhl, Victoria N. Ola Nā Iwi. Hawaii Ney: Island Plays. Honolulu: University of Hawaii press, 2002.
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