UH Hilo storytelling series Wailau emerges from the pandemic LIVE in November!

The upcoming episode of Wailau, a storytelling series produced by UH Hilo, will for the first time be staged live in front of an audience on campus, Nov. 18. Storytellers will share new beginnings, life changes, fresh starts and new adventures.

At left is photo of fern leaf with words: Wailau Fall 2022, New Beginnings, University of Hawaii at Hilo. At right are photos of hosts Dane Dupre and Tori Matsumoto.
For the upcoming live episode of UH Hilo’s storytelling series Wailau, Nov. 18, there will be two student hosts, from left, performing arts major Dane Dupre, who has previously hosted Wailau, and English major Tori Matsumoto, a former Wailau storyteller. (Courtesy photos)

By Susan Enright.

Students at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo are planning the first live episode of a storytelling series they hope builds connections between people on campus and in the larger island community.

The series, called Wailau, began during the pandemic, during which each of the first four episodes were prerecorded on video before being released to the public. The storytellers, who come from the university and island communities, explored a different theme on each episode such as a just world and misunderstandings, and shared a personal anecdote on the theme.

As the university emerges from covid restrictions (students and faculty are back on campus this semester and the mask mandate is being lifted next Friday), the upcoming Wailau episode will premiere live on Nov. 18, 2022, with the theme “new beginnings.”

“As we begin reconnecting and seeing each other in person, Wailau will be staged live in front of an audience on UH Hilo’s campus,” notes the Wailau website. “The theme explores new beginnings, a life change, a fresh start, or a new adventure.”

UH Hilo students play a major role in staging Wailau, from selecting the theme and stories, to operating lights, sound and cameras, to participating as hosts and storytellers. Students from the English Club determine Wailau themes, review applications, and select storytellers.

Tori Matsumoto pictured
Tori Matsumoto
Dane Dupre pictured
Dane Dupre

For the upcoming live episode, Wailau introduces two student hosts: performing arts major Dane Dupre, who has previously hosted Wailau, and English major Tori Matsumoto, a former Wailau storyteller.

“Being a part of Wailau continues to inspire me toward personal and artistic growth,” Matsumoto says. “I’m so grateful to co-host with Dane, and to collaborate with our brilliant technicians, storytellers, and director. It truly is a new beginning for all of us, together.”

Wailau translates as “where water from diverse sources comes together to commingle and become a more powerful, unified whole.” The series spotlights voices and stories that fit themes in interesting ways, showcasing five storytellers: a UH Hilo faculty member, a staff member, a student, an alumna or alumnus, and someone from the Hawai‘i Island community.

On Hawai‘i Public Radio, Matsumoto says, “Sharing your true voice is pretty terrifying, but it’s also one of the most important things anyone can ever do. All of our storytellers have connected their personal struggles, their successes and words of advice to a central theme that resonates within all of them together.”

Wailau is about growing and connecting as artists,” she says, “and I really love that both the campus and the broader Hilo community can be a part of that.”

By Susan Enright, a public information specialist for the Office of the Chancellor and editor of UH Hilo Stories.