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Kealoha: A Creation Story for Today


When Governor Neil Abercrombie appointed Steven Kealoha Wong as Hawai‘i’s first Poet Laureate, he handed Kealoha a mission for the next year: promote writing, reading, and the appreciation of poetry among Hawai‘i’s people. Seven years later, Kealoha’s crafted a multimedia theatre production that’s a creation story for today. 

Kyle Nishioka
Credit Kyle Nishioka
In 2010, Kealoha delivered a forward-looking spoken word poem at Governor Neil Abercrombie's inauguration.

Kealoha’s "The Story of Everything" plays tomorrow night, Friday, in a one-time only filmed live performance at the Hawai‘i Theatre.

I will proclaim a Poet Laureate for Hawai‘i and it will be Kealoha."  So Said Governor Abercrombie in 2012, appointing Hawai‘i’s first Poet Laureate to 

In 2010, Kealohaenlivened governor Abercrombie’s inauguration with a forward looking spoken word poem.   Then, Poet Laureate in 2012, it’s kind of a responsibility, but the project Kealoha embarked on, the History of Everything, began in a very personal space---remember, he majored in nuclear physics.

Kealoha:  The reason why I wrote this thing, is because I found out I was going to have a child, right, 7 years ago.  When I found out, I started to write about what it might be like to be a father.  One of the questions that kept popping up was, one day this future child of mine is going to ask me where we come from.

At this point, best to remember, Kealoha has a degree in nuclear physics, minor in writing from MIT.

Kealoha:  For me, I don’t subscribe to some kind of notion =that was created for us through religions and what not, I subsribe to science,  so I startd to write scientifically hwere we come from.

Kealoha:  When I started to write about the Big Bang, it became a war story between matter and anti-matter, and they kept destroying each other.  In that war story, matter and anti-matter became heroes and enemies and intentions and conflict.  In writing this thing, I realized this story that science tells us can be hyper extended to an actual story.

Kealoha figures past creation stories enshrined the highest science of their time.

Kealoha:  We haven’t had a creation story created for a while, for thousands of years!  Everything we know has changed so rapidly, I figured it was time for us to have a new story we could attach our current knowledge base to.

Kealohahas developed his story of 3.7 billion years of evolution into a theatre performance involving dancers, projections, live music, and his signature spoken word elements.

Kealoha:  To me, the live theatre experience is everything.  Because it’s us, as humans, interacting with each other.  We spend so much of our days looking at these tiny little devices and screens, but to really connect on a human level, we crave that.  We crave that as people.  For me, theater changed my life.  I just want to give that to future generations.

He’s got help.  The Story of Everything features ‘ukulele phenom Taimane, world beats from Quadrophonix, chanter Kau’i K?naka’ole, dancers Jonathan Clarke Sypert, Jamie Nakama, Jory Horne, and visuals by Solomon Enos.

Noe Tanigawa covered art, culture and ideas for two decades at Hawaiʻi Public Radio.
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