The Whitefire Theatre Solofest Presents “Island Girl”

Written and performed by Luka Lyman, directed by Jessica Lynn Johnson.

Luka Lyman’s “Island Girl: A Rescue Mission” was chosen as “Best of the Fest” from Solofest 2020 to present as a live-stream encore performance at the Whitefire Theatre, Sherman Oaks.

The best solo shows are always the most personal.  Luke Lyman has written a deeply personal account of her life, her loss and finding herself again.  Using the magical and the mythical, she fills her story with what she filled her days with as a child.  Growing up in Hawaii, in a nursery owned by her family and miles away from other children, she created her own friends.  Trees and flowers and plants were her companions and this is the basis of her extraordinary imagination.  In this play she guides us through her life with the help of a magical sprite who the goddess sends to help Luka find her faith again when she feels that all is lost.  The sprite joyfully takes on the task and we are led by her through Luka’s sadness and her journey of self discovery.  Six generations of Lyman women in Hawaii, all demanding to be heard.

Luka is something special.  She weaves her tale with such gentle power and grace, flitting from character to character with effortless ease. A master storyteller she brings us into her world and the beauty of Hawaii is fully present on the dark blank stage.  Perhaps she is magical indeed.

During the play we travel with her as she reencounters those moments that shaped her.  An actress in L.A., her mother’s illness brings her home and, as she cares for her, watching her fade away, Luka fades too.  I have suffered loss in such a way and I can fully understand that the long losing of ones greatest love is like a tiny daily death.  Luka beautifully and tenderly shows this, both the love and the pain and the end.  She says, “The living room becomes the dying room.”  Strange and perfectly true.  Where once was life and the center of her world, there is nothing to hold her to the place she loves, nothing to anchor her. 

Her life through this loss is one part of the play, discovering her half white, half native roots is another. The missionary who “saved” the Inlanders, who hardly needed saving, was her ancestor and that tremendous guilt clung to her. Never feeling quite one thing or the other as a child, perhaps then that was the impetus to act.  As an adult she found control through eating disorders, her spiraling self esteem too hard to restore.

It’s a story we can all relate to, in one way or another.  Feeling apart, feeling alone, losing our center and then ourselves.  How to find purpose when we feel so numb.  Lukas is sharing her soul with us and her darkest and lightest parts of herself. She wanted to write a story about her ancestors and, as she did, it evolved into a story about finding her ancestors in her own reflection and belonging to them as much as she belongs to anyone.  Gorgeously written, beautifully performed, warm and enriching, and truthful.  If you ever get the chance to see this play, don’t hesitate.  It’s actually still available to see online – the one good thing about this damn pandemic closing the theatres I suppose!!!!

Island Girl: A Rescue Mission from Whitefire Theatre on Vimeo.