Dian Kobayashi, Emily Kuroda and Jeanne Sakata are at the idyllic Sundance Resort in Utah, rehearsing A Cage of Fireflies, a new play by Honolulu-based playwright Daniel Akiyama, which has been selected as one of the eight projects out of nearly 900 submitted to be developed at the 2012 Sundance Institute Theatre Lab, July 9-29, 2012. It was simultaneously a finalist for this summer’s Eugene O’Neill National Playwrights Conference.
The play tells the story of three elderly sisters of the kibei generation – sent as children to be raised in Okinawa, then returned to live and work in Hawai‘i. 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.
Akiyama, a graduate of the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, began writing the play in response to an assignment in a playwriting class. He has worked with many of Honolulu’s theatres and states that “after being consumed by the study of dramatic writing most of my adult life, observing others at various stages in their own playwriting journeys, I now find myself in the midst of my own journey – my first full-length play.”
Of the Sundance opportunity, he writes “This play has always been about small, private gestures, about rituals enacted quietly and with precision. The play is rooted in specific references to Okinawan and Hawaiian culture, history, and...