Da Green Lady, co-written by Joseph Loi-On, an English education senior from Wahiawa, and Jacob Titus, a communications senior from Wahiawa, premiered in the Little Theatre. Since the play is targeted towards children, it is also premiering at elementary schools across the North Shore.
The production is about elementary school students at Wahiawa Elementary who get lost in the woods where Da Green Lady is rumored to live. The main character, Kimo, said he saw her while on the bus. On their adventure in the forest home of this strange lady, they learn valuable lessons that change their lives.
Loi-On and Titus both grew up near the gulch where Da Green Lady was said to live in stories told to them as children. Titus said, “The Green Lady story is an old tale in Hawaii. A lot of other communities have their own lady. I believe in Laie, they have the white lady. Maybe in other towns they have a different colored lady.
“It’s a story I heard a lot growing up. We took a lot of the Green Lady’s physical appearance and backstory from those old stories.” Titus said the Green Lady snatches up children because she believes they may be her lost children.
Aniela Santoso, a senior from Indonesia majoring in pathology piano performance, said she liked the play. “It’s a very short play. It has great values and messages embodied in the play.” She said it seemed like the actors took great effort to depict the reality of the characters. “It’s appropriate for kids, but also for college students and different ages.”
Teaching children through stories
Using the play as a way to help the children across Hawaii, Loi-On said, “[It] embodies the way a lot of local students talk. I did my senior thesis in English education on using local literature to help local students in Hawaii public schools. I felt like I had a responsibility to contribute in my own way.”
According to Loi-On, Hawaiian students use Pidgeon at home and with their friends, but not in their English classes. The idea is not to replace Shakespeare and other classics, “but to use local literature to springboard into harder pieces of literature. This is our small way of trying to contribute to that.”
Loi-On said, “A lot of kids, as of right now, are having problems making the jump to [reading] Shakespeare or something more difficult.”
He said they have a problem reading Shakespeare, at first, because it is not directly related to their lives. “As they get a hold of reading things that are directly related to their life, then the idea is that they can get to deeper stories that are not directly related to them.”
As for social commentary and teaching children about controversial topics, Loi-On said, “[We] tried to work some of that in.”
Loi-On said the play was originally about the homelessness issue in Hawaii as he had done a lot of research on the topic. “That’s what I wanted it to be about, but as every author knows, as you write the story, the story that wants to be told kind of tells itself.
“With the research I was doing with helping local students in Hawaii public schools, this was the kind of story that wanted to be told. It shifted completely from the original idea I had about coupling the Green Lady with homelessness and creating awareness about that into more overcoming fears about not being able to perform in school.”
They also had light social commentary on race relations and climate change. Loi-On brought up how one of the characters was racist towards another for being a “haole.” Loi-On said, “In Hawaii, local people will foster racism against haole people (white people) just because of the color of their skin, much the same way that it might go the opposite way.”
Writing the play
Titus noted the process of creating the play was interesting. “I’m really happy with how this play has turned out. The challenge is having a vision in your mind and then putting it on paper with the knowledge that it’s going to be put on stage. It’s hard to contrive all of those factors with it being live and having actors.
Titus said the experience has been rewarding. “There’s going to be additional challenges that present themselves over the course of rehearsal. It’s still a work in progress. This is the first iteration of what we’ve written.”
Loi-On said he had the original idea and Titus came during the summer and helped him. “It was trial and error. I wrote a couple of drafts, and he read those and helped me form a lot of the nuts and bolts of it.”