Jan. 24-Feb. 24: Kumu Kahua Theatre Presents World Premiere of Daniel Akiyama’s A Cage of Fireflies

Posted by Lia Chang on Monday, 21 January 2013.

The world premiere of Daniel Akiyama’s A Cage of Fireflies, a new drama about three Okinawan sisters, living in Hawai’i, is being presented at the Kumu Kahua Theatre, 46 Merchant Street in Honolulu, HI, from January 24-February 24, 2013. The cast features Dian Kobayashi (Kimiko), Karen Yamamoto Hackler (Mitsuko) and Kat Koshi (Yukiko), under the direction of Phyllis S.K. Look.

Dian Kobayashi in Daniel Akiyama's A Cage of Fireflies. Photo credit: Sammie Choy

Dian Kobayashi in Daniel Akiyama’s A Cage of Fireflies. Photo credit: Sammie Choy


Synopsis: Three elderly sisters of the kibei generation — sent as children to be raised in Okinawa, then returned to live and work in Hawai‘i — are at the heart of Daniel Akiyama’s new play.

Two of the sisters confine themselves to their small Honolulu apartment, enacting the rituals of daily life as they cling to a dream of returning to Okinawa. The third, charged with running the family’s orchid nursery, has inherited a title that is not hers. As long-hidden hopes and regrets surface, the sisters discover what is both selfish and selfless in their love for each other.

Karen Yamamoto Hackler and Dian Kobayashi in Daniel Akiyama’s A Cage of Fireflies.                  Photo credit: Sammie Choy

Karen Yamamoto Hackler and Dian Kobayashi in Daniel Akiyama’s A Cage of Fireflies. Photo credit: Sammie Choy


With set and lighting design by Lloyd “Sandy” Riford III, costume design by Debbie Nishimoto, sound design by Jason Taglianetti, prop design by Monica Cho Coldwell and Squire Coldwell, wig and make-up design by Newton Koshi and kimono consultant Dr. Alfred Yama Kina.

An earlier version of A Cage of Fireflies was developed and presented and as a staged reading at Kumu Kahua Theatre where Daniel Akiyama is a volunteer and past student and past Board Member. The play was workshopped at the Sundance Playwrights Lab in 2012 and recognized as a Eugene O’Neill National Playwrights Conference finalist.

In 1981, Robert Redford gathered a group of his friends and colleagues in the mountains of Utah to create an environment designed to foster independence, discovery, and new voices in American film. In the remote natural setting and removed from the pressures of the marketplace, each emerging artist was encouraged to take creative risks and to craft a film true to their own, unique vision. In 1984, the Institute’s activities expanded to include development programs for theatre when the Utah Playwrights Conference became the Sundance Playwrights Lab.

Of over 900 submissions to the Sundance Playwrights Lab in 2012, only eight were selected to participate; Daniel Akiyama’s A Cage of Fireflies was one of them.

Performance Schedule:
Thursday, Friday & Saturday 8pm
January 24, 25, 26, 31; February 1, 2, 7, 8, 9, 14, 15, 16, 21, 22, 23, 2013
Sundays 2pm
January 27; February 3, 10, 17, 24, 2013
(No show on Superbowl Sunday, February 3rd)

SPECIAL EVENT: Friday, Feb 1, 2013. Following the production, there will be a post-show talk story with playwright Daniel Akiyama and director Phyllis Look. This talk with be facilitated by U of H Professor and Director of the Center for Biographical Research, Craig Howes.

Tickets are on sale now and prices range from $5 to $20. Tickets may be purchased with a credit card by calling (808) 536-4441, or by visiting the Kumu Kahua Box Office at 46 Merchant Street from 11am to 3pm Monday through Friday. For more information about this and other productions, or to purchase tickets online, visit www.kumukahua.org.

Kat Koshi and Dian Kobayashi in Daniel Akiyama's A Cage of Fireflies. Photo credit: Sammie Choy

Kat Koshi and Dian Kobayashi in Daniel Akiyama’s A Cage of Fireflies. Photo credit: Sammie Choy


DANIEL AKIYAMA (playwright) was born and raised in Honolulu, Hawai‘i and graduated from the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa. Daniel studied playwriting with Victoria Nalani Kneubuhl, Y York, Dennis Carroll and Daniel A. Kelin II. A Cage of Fireflies, Daniel’s first full-length play, was a finalist for the Eugene O’Neill National Playwrights Conference and was developed at the 2012 Sundance Institute Theatre Lab.

PHYLLIS S.K. LOOK (director) holds an MFA from the Yale School of Drama and is the recipient of an NEA/TCG Directing Fellowship and an HSFCA Individual Artist Fellowship. She is a former co-producer of Hawaii Public Radio’s Aloha Shorts. She has worked in professional theatre for more than 25 years, directing productions at theatres across the mainland, while making her artistic home at Berkeley Repertory Theatre.

DIAN KOBAYASHI (Kimiko) originally from Kapoho on the Big Island, has performed in theatres across the country and has appeared in numerous films and TV shows. She is making her debut with KKT.

KAT KOSHI (Yukiko) works as a paralegal and was last seen on stage as Laura in Kumu Kahua Theatre’s premiere production of The Life of the Land. She may be remembered for her UH kabuki performances as the Demon/disguised as Courtesan/disguised as old aunty in The Demon’s Hand, Kampei in the national tour of The 47 Samurai, and the pickpocket in The Road to Kyoto. She has more recently been heard on Hawaii Public Radio’sAloha Shorts.

KAREN YAMAMOTO HACKLER (Mitsuko) is a storyteller, actor, and playwright. She received an Individual Artist Fellowship in Playwriting from the Hawai‘i State Foundation on Culture and the Arts. She is founder of Lo`i Theater which produced a statewide touring show of her play The Lines Are Drawn. She has been in KKT’s premieres of A Little Bit Like YouAloha Las Vegas and The Taste of Kona Coffee.

Kumu Kahua Theatre is an intimate, air-conditioned 100-seat performance space and individual performances do sell out. Patrons are strongly advised to purchase tickets in advance.

Kumu Kahua productions are supported in part by the State Foundation on Culture and Arts through appropriations from the Legislature of the State of Hawaii and by the National Endowment for the Arts. Also paid for in part by the taxpayers of the City & County of Honolulu; the Mayor’s Office of Culture and the Arts; The Annenberg Foundation, McInerny Foundation (Bank of Hawaii, Trustee); Hawaiian Electric Company; and other Foundations, Businesses and Patrons.

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Lia Chang

Lia Chang


Lia Chang is an actor, a performance and fine art botanical photographer, and an award-winning multi-platform journalist.