UHMED STAFF CORNER: Proud papa’s two children were in play inspired by the story of Alana Dung

Information Technology’s Terry Gerber at the John A. Burns School of Medicine (JABSOM) can’t help being a proud “theater dad”–and who would blame him? Both his daughter and oldest son just performed in the Hawai`i premiere of a play written by the late Lisa Matsumoto. Matsumoto entertained generations of theater-goers in the Aloha State with her uniquely local take on Western fairy tales. She would rewrite them in Hawaiian Pidgin and change their plots in unexpected (and very comedic ways). Her works included “Once Upon One Noddah Time,” “Once Upon One Kapakahi Time, “Happily Eva Afta” and “On Dragonfly Wings”, which she wrote with Rosyln Catracchia. (The cast is featured in our photograph.)

“On Dragonfly Wings” was inspired by little Alana Dung, a child whose battle with leukemia ended with her death 16 years. At the time, her story mobilized thousands of people in Hawai`i to participate in or help publicize bone marrow drives, as Alana’s family desperately sought a match for the three year-old.

“On Dragonfly Wings” had been performed on the U.S. Mainland, but never before in Hawai`i. It just wrapped up production at the Ronald E. Bright Theatre at Castle High School, and Terry’s daughter had the lead role. With her brother in the play and dad helping out with his theater and video skills, it became a family affair. The play was presented by The Paliku Academy of Performing Arts, and was sponsored by the Alana Dung Foundation.

“At each show the Hawai`i Donor Bone Registry was on-site to take registrations, which requires an ID, filling out a paper, and swabbing the inside of your cheek,” says Terry. “It’s very easy.” (There is a drive coming up in Waimanalo on August 10.)

A video story about the play was featured on local TV news, and may be watched on-line at KITV NEWS.

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