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ensemble watching a hula dancer.
UH Mānoa hana keaka (play), Glitter in the Paʻakai, will be among the productions performed. (Photo Credit: Hezekiah Kapuaʻala)

This spring, the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa Hawaiian theatre program is gearing up for an exhilarating showcase of cultural richness with ConFest 2024. From May 24 to 28, the campus will be alive with the vibrant performances and discussions of Kānaka Maoli (Native Hawaiian), Pacific Islander and Asian American theatrical artists.

This year’s highly anticipated conference, Kuʻu ʻĀina, Kuʻu Piko, Kuʻu Kahua — Reconnecting, Recentering, Rebuilding will call attention to issues impacting Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander communities.

In collaboration with the Consortium of Asian American Theaters and Artists (CAATA), ConFest 2024 promises five days of immersive experiences featuring a play festival, three full-length productions, one-on-one training sessions, keynote speeches, breakout discussion groups and more.

Ikaika mendez acting on stage
Ikaika Mendez is one of more than a dozen UH student actors who will be showcased at ConFest. (Photo Credit: Hezekiah Kapuaʻala)

“ Although the conference theme was selected in 2019, it resonates even stronger today,” said Tammy Hailiʻōpua Baker, director and founder of the UH Mānoa Hawaiian Theatre program. “Kuʻu ʻĀina, K​uʻu Piko, Kuʻu Kahua grounds​ us in our practices and artistry. Here in Hawaiʻi, as it is for many Indigenous peoples, the ʻāina or land is ​our foundation, it is our ancestor. This gathering is a time for us to reflect on the foundations on which we stand and the ancestors that inspire our creative endeavors. It is also a time to reconnect, recenter and rebuild for a thriving tomorrow.”

In 2020, UH Mānoa was scheduled to host the 7th annual ConFest, however the COVID-19 pandemic forced organizers to postpone.

ConFest 2024 themes

  • Ancestral presence in ʻāina (land), power of kūpuna (elders) and respect for cultural protocols
  • Cost of overtourism
  • Displacement caused by Lahaina fires
  • Military/Navy misuse and contamination of land and water
  • Aftermath of Typhoon Mawar on Guam
  • Gender expression
  • Mental health

“We’re hoping to connect artists and theaters to the major arts funders that will be attending ConFest to remove barriers of funding and access,” said Leilani Chan, co-chair of ConFest 2024.

Ticket prices start at $40 and offer access to an array of performances and discussions. ConFest 2024 is hosted in cooperation with Hana Keakathe Hawaiian theatre program in the UH Mānoa Department of Theatre & Dance, ʻAhahui Noiʻi Noʻeau ʻŌiwi – Research Institute of Indigenous Performance at UHTeaDa Productions.

For more information visit CAATA’s website.

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