On October 22, the production of The Story of Everything was performed to a sold out house at the Bioneers Conference in San Rafael, Calif. The performance is an epic poem created by Hawai’i’s Poet Laureate Kealoha Wong and was brought to life by Kealoha himself and a cast of 10 dancers and musicians. This was the first full production of the piece on the continental U.S. since the its premiere in Honolulu in 2015.
An engaged and enthusiastic audience filled the seats of the Showcase Theater at the Marin Center in San Rafael, and was taken on a riveting and provocative journey to find the answer to the question ‘Where do we come from’?
“ The Story of Everything is a theatrical tour de force. Hawai’i’s Poet Laureate Kealoha Wong takes us from the Nano second after the big bang to why we came to be. It is a musical / poetic / dance jam unparalleled in its relevance to the human condition and to each soul’s capacity to make a difference that lasts.” Mona Abadir, Chief Executive Officer, Engaging the Senses Foundation
The Story of Everything is one of NACF’s Community Inspiration Programs and is an original creation story told using multiple knowledge systems, both Indigenous and Western, exploring the question “Where do we come from?”. It is structured in two acts and divided into six scenes through which the story of evolution unfolds, starting with The Big Band, segueing into The Stars, The Solar System, The Evolution of Life, The Homo Sapiens Migration, and lastly, Our Future.
In The Evolution of Life scene, Kealoha juxtaposes spoken work with the Kumulipo, a Native Hawaiian oli (chant) composed in the 1700’s and masterfully performed by Kau`i Kanaka`ole, in one of the most enthralling moments of the performance. Overall, Kealoha was able to integrate seemingly disparate components such as physics, biology, disco and pop icon Michael Jackson to navigate through how different cultural elements and scientific tenets are used to approach a question about existence that has forever intrigued humanity.
“The Story of Everything playfully and deeply uses spoken word science to explore the Universe and the Earth, invoking the Mystery and Beauty of Nature, while introducing audiences to Hawaiian cosmology and the power of music and dance.” Melissa K. Nelson (Turtle Mountain Chippewa) President of the Cultural Conservancy and Professor of American Indian Studies, SFSU
The October 22 performance of The Story of Everything was co-directed by Harry Wong, Cristian “See” Ellauri, and Marc Bamuthi Joseph. The cast and crew were comprised of: dancers Jamie Nakama, Jonathan Clarke Sypert and Jory Horn, in collaboration with Wailana Simcock; musicians Taimane Gardner and Quadraphonix (Jonathan Heraux, Shree Sadagopan, Eli Clemens, and Aaron Friedman); chanter Kau`i Kanaka`ole; visual artist Solomon Enos; and, graphic artists Joseph Pa`ahana & Spencer Keala Bowden.
We would like to thank Bioneers for partnering with us in bringing this performance to the Bay Area. We are also grateful to the funders that supported this effort and made it possible: Engaging the Senses Foundation, Hawaii Community Foundation’s The Leonard & Rose Freeman Fund, National Endowment for the Arts, Kalliopeia Foundation, Rauschenberg Foundation and the Ford Foundation.