Navigating Islands: Plays from the Pacific
- About the Book
Navigating Islands: Plays from the Pacific brings together three plays bydistinguished playwright Victoria Nalani Kneubuhl. The islands of Sāmoa—often called the “Navigator Islands” on nineteenth century maps of the Pacific—emerge to the fore, fully dimensional, in this dynamic collection. Of both Hawaiian and Sāmoan ancestry, Kneubuhl spent formative years in the islands as a young adult. Her love of Sāmoa, its culture and its people, is woven into the fabric of every scene. In the front matter of this book, fans of the author’s theatrical productions, media work, and novels will be pleased to learn about her creative process and her broad influence on Pacific literature and storytelling.
Two of the plays are set at Vailima, Sāmoa, the former home of Robert Louis Stevenson and his family. Aitu Fafine portrays the final days of Stevenson’s life in an unusual historical fantasy. Through myth and stage magic, the play examines the demonization of women, an author’s role in shaping social attitudes, and the timeless power of story. Fanny and Belle explores the mother-daughter relationship of Fanny Stevenson and her daughter Belle Strong, two intrepid bohemian women who defied the coventions of their time and lived daring and adventurous lives.
Set in American Sāmoa in the early twentieth century, The Holiday of Rain reimagines Somerset Maugham’s visit to Pago Pago when he wrote his famous short story “Rain.” While the play is a satirical romp that includes time travel, mistaken identities, and a play within a play, it thematically reviews the portrayal of Polynesian women by Western writers, and the fictionalization Pacific places and people of color to suit perceived Western audience demands.
All three plays scrutinize how non-Polynesians interact with Polynesians when attempting to navigate through the subtleties of island life.They also ask readers and viewers to think about how the outside world’s impressions of Polynesians were shaped by the perceptions and stories of foreigners. Perhaps the plays’ most compelling connections involve women as they fight to achieve individuality in the face of unfair expectations, negative societal projections, and historical misrepresentations of female characters in literature.
- About the Author(s)
Victoria Nalani Kneubuhl, AuthorVictoria Nalani Kneubuhl is an award-winning Hawaiʻi playwright and author. Her many plays have been performed in Hawaiʻi, the continental United States, Britain, Asia, and the Pacific. She has written and produced several novels, television series, and documentaries.