Review: Masters of the Currents

Masters of the Currents

 From left to right: Mom, nephew, and Innocenta Sound-Kikku, one of the lead actors. On the set of Masters of the Currents.

From left to right: Mom, nephew, and Innocenta Sound-Kikku, one of the lead actors. On the set of Masters of the Currents.

“Do you want to see a play about Micronesians?” That’s how I asked my 7 year old nephew if he wanted to accompany me to, “Masters of the Currents”.

“A play? Yes! What’s it about?”, that’s my mom, and her keen way of saying, “I’m coming too”.

Disbelief was my initial reaction. Some skepticism borne out of years of disappointments over portrayals of Micronesians in media.

I carried this skepticism into the Honolulu theatre for Youth, and came out overwhelmed with hope and ambition. It was refreshing to see another medium take a jab at old themes of racism and discrimination that never seem to go away.
 
From my nephew, myself, and my mom,
thank you


Masters of the Currents, by TeAda Productions, is a play that manages to tell the experiences of Micronesians living in Hawaii. It is an ambitious idea, but one that I think was successful. It was impressive how the writers and performers were able to produce such an encompassing collection of experiences into a story-line.

I score Masters of the Currents: 9 out of 10.

Positives:

  1. The play was very creative, and very well acted. The performers were all unique and complimented each other beautifully. And they were actual Micronesian actors.
  2. Good stage design and use of props (canoe, projector, skirts, sticks, ice-chest).
  3. Costumes were practical: Skirts, shorts, slippers, t-shirts, face towel.
  4. Very well written. The story flowed smoothly and didn’t feel rushed. It didn’t drag as well. I was told that the play is a compilation of actual stories. This realization made the play all the more powerful.
  5. Good for all ages. A timeless story about culture, community, family, discrimination, and heritage. A universal story of immigration.
  6. The most beautiful thing for me, was to realize Micronesians literally taking the stage and telling our stories. There is something visceral about seeing something you can relate to at a personal level being performed to a live audience that can share your reactions. To laugh with a group, express sadness and joy with a group. In that theater we became a community witnessing in unison, lived experiences.

Negatives:

  1. Low production value. However, it made the performers more interesting and the play more creative. For example, they had to huddle together to imagine a boat.
  2. If you were looking for it, you could see some actors slipping on their lines. Manageable.
  3. This is an unfair criticism, but I believe that the play weighed heavily in favor of the Chuukese experience. Because one of the main characters spoke in Chuukese. In fairness to the writers, given our diversity, trying to have equal representation would be a storytelling nightmare. Regardless of this criticism, the themes of the play is quite universal to Micronesians. And I can imagine replacing the “Chuukese mother”, with a “Pohnpeian mother”, “Marshallese mother” and so on.   
  4. This will be an unpopular criticism. But at the beginning of the play there was a stick-dance performance. The dance and attire were cultural but the chant was replaced by something Christian; which I felt was a little contradictory and out of place to the theme of honoring culture and tradition. Along with that, it was a Chuukese stick dance and dips into the previous critique.

Memorable Quotes:

  1. Funny: “A principal? What’s a principal?”
  2. Upsetting: “When they come after you they come after all of us!”
  3. Touching: “My grandma made this for me so I can remember her”