This weekend, July 28 and 29, University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa Outreach College presents two performances of DAMIEN, the award-winning one-man play by Aldyth Morris. The riveting drama of Saint Damien’s life in Hawai‘i will be performed by actor Dann Seki and directed by Tim Slaughter. The entire playscript is included in Almost Heaven: On the Human and Divine (Mānoa 23:2), which will be available for sale at the performances. The 1980 edition of the play is still available by order from UH Press.
Act One opens with a chant, written originally in Hawaiian by a composer and hula master who contracted leprosy and died at the Kalaupapa settlement on Moloka‘i. “Song of the Chanter Ka-‘ehu” begins:
What will become of Hawai‘i?
What will leprosy do to our land—
disease of the despised, dreaded alike
by white or brown or darker-skinned?
Strange when a man’s neighors
become less than acquaintances.
Seeing me they drew away.
They moved to sit elsewhere, whispering,
and a friend pointed a finger:
“He is a leper.”