SAMPLE DIALOGUE.  

FULL SCRIPT AVAILABLE UPON REQUEST


(ACT TWO.  Queen Lili, in danger, comes to Bishop Alfred's door, seeking his help.  Their conversation takes a theological turn.)  

LILI’UOKALANI

But if God is creator, creation is God's.  Otherwise, how could He...She...It speak to us so eloquently?


ALFRED

(queered)  Speak to us?


LILI'UOKALANI

Well...to me.  


ALFRED

How does God speak to you, Your Highness?


LILI'UOKALANI

A certain sigh in the trees.  A special dream.     


ALFRED

(hint of sarcasm)  The thunder?


LILI'UOKALANI

All of nature.  You certainly know about the phenomena when an ali'i dies.  The strong winds.  The tides turning red.


ALFRED

Nothing a scientist couldn't explain.  But right.  God did create the world, that's a given.  However, and here's the rub:  His kingdom -- our kingdom -- is not of the world.


LILI'UOKALaNI

Then what the dickens are we doing here, Bishop Willis?!


ALFRED

Preparing to go there, Your Majesty.  Our only task.


LiLI'UOKALANI

If you can prove that to me, I will join your Church.


ALFRED

Be warned.  The Church of England gives no quarter to practicing kahunas.  


LILI'UOKALANI

Bishop, haven't you ever prayed over the sick?  Laid on hands and asked God to take pity?  Then you, too, are a kahuna.


ALFRED

Do the kahunas accept Jesus Christ?


LILI'UOKALANI

A corollary question.  The millions of souls who lived on these islands before the time of Captain Cooke, and thus never heard of Jesus Christ, where are they now?  Roasting in hellfire?  For what?  The crime of being born in the wrong hemisphere?  Geographical bad luck?


ALFRED

(deliberately)  Do your kahunas accept Jesus?


LILI'UOKALANI

Some do, some don't, but they all -- each and every one -- they all accept God.


ALFRED

God isn't the word they use.  It's I'o, the universal polarity.  Worse still, Kane. Kane the Great, drinker of blood, devourer of flesh.  Do I misrepresent the old beliefs?  


LILI'UOKALANI

(collects herself; then)  "And He said unto them, Take, eat, this is my flesh which is given for you.  Do this in remembrance of me."


ALFRED

Blasphemy!


LILI'UOKALANI

How can I blaspheme what you yourself have struggled with?  And don't say you haven't.


ALFRED

No man under the sun can be an hundred percent certain.  We are all human.


LILI'UOKALANI

Then why banish the kahuna from your personal non-paradise?  Are you "an hundred percent certain" of their ungodliness?


ALFRED

I object that you use my legitimate struggles of faith as a debating point.


LILI'UOKALANI

I object that you limit God to the invisible world and those who speak English.  In our way, Bishop, if you dare describe God you will be told that whatever you have just described, God is not that.


ALFRED

"Our way," Highness?


LILI'UOKALANI

I am a native-born Hawaiian; a baptized Congregationalist.  Well you know it.


ALFRED

Then what does "our way" mean, precisely?


LILI'UOKALANI

The way of the prophets, the saints and holy ones from the beginning of time.


ALFRED

In your spirituality, you rather outstrip me.


LILI'UOKALANI

No, I anger you.  Anger is your cross, Right Reverend Willis, and I feed that anger.  Why, I cannot say.  Or is it yourself that you despise so venomously? 


                       (ALFRED drops into a chair as if the weight of the inquiry had shoved him.)

Queen Lili'uokalani, regent of Hawaii at the time of annexation by the U.S.

Rev. Alfred Willis, Anglican Bishop of Hawaii prior to American annexation.

PLOT SYNOPSIS


          The play opens with Alfred in crisis.  The Americans have begun to outnumber the British at St. Andrew’s Anglican Church, and there is talk of replacing “the Redcoat priest” with someone from the States.  Alfred is determined to maintain control of the cathedral he built for Honolulu.  To be sure, King Kalakua is a church member, but the person whom Alfred  hopes to convert is the influential Princess Lili’uokalani.  The Princess refuses Alfred’s overtures.  Though she appreciates his support as a royalist, she wishes to remain loyal spiritually to the American Congregationalists who schooled her.


         When the King dies, Alfred counsels the new Queen Lili’uokalani to forbid old-fashioned disinterment rituals, which advice she follows.  American power-brokers force a constitution on the Queen that eviscerates her regency.  In 1893, the U.S. Marines come ashore.  As succeeding American-provoked crises wash over Iolani Palace and St. Andrew’s Cathedral, the friendship between the beleaguered Queen and Bishop deepens into spiritual comradeship.  When she is placed under house arrest, he is the only clergyman who dares to visit her.  She repays this kindness with a gift that touches the Bishop’s heart, though it does nothing to improve his relations with the rebellious parishioners who are prosecuting him both in the courts and the press.


​         The Queen and The Bishop is a study of friendship in high places, and a meditation on religion vs. spirituality.  When conversion occurs, as it does in the second act, the question is posed as to who has converted whom to what. The relationship between these two powerful personalities is finally blessed with the uniquely Hawaiian concept of aloha.  This word is often understood as everyday love or affection.  However, as interpreted by Queen Lili’uokalani’shanai daughter, Lydia K. Aloho, it speaks of something transcendental as well: “…the razor’s edge…the width of a blade of pili grass…to hear what is not said, to see what cannot be seen, and to know the unknowable.”




 HISTORICAL BACKGROUND


         Honolulu, 1886-1902, saw the unprovoked overthrow of the Hawaiian Monarchy and the annexation of the islands by American invaders.  Queen Lili’uokalani, the last of her lineage, was born in 1838.  Though she was raised in the so-called Missionary Period, she had direct experience of the old ways and beliefs of her people.  Together with her brother, King David Kalakua, she helped restore dignity to the songs and dances -- including the hula -- which had been denigrated by foreigners.  A highly cultured woman, a devout believer and an accomplished composer, she wrote over 200 songs in her lifetime, of which the most famous, “Aloha O’e,” is considered the unofficial anthem of the islands.  Her reign from 1891-1895 ended with the indignity of house arrest and a trumped-up court martial. Until the end of her life in 1917, Queen Lili’uokalani visited Washington , D.C. frequently in an on-going effort to have Hawaii returned to its people.  The Queen’s motto, reflecting her love of things both educational and spiritual, was, “Never cease in the seeking of knowledge.“


         Alfred Willis, the Anglican Bishop in Honolulu during this period, was one of thirteen children born to a wealthy family in Lincolnshire, England.  His great-grandfather was the doctor whose professional accomplishment is celebrated in the play and movie, “The Madness of King George.”  After working as a priest in several regional parishes, young Alfred felt called to the mission of converting “non-believers” abroad.  It was his conviction that the Anglican Church (also known as The Church of England or the Episcopal Church) was the “one true catholic and apostolic church.”  His first choice was Africa, but he was assigned to Hawaii where he served first as priest then as Bishop from 1872 to 1902.  He married Emma Mary Simeon, twenty years his junior, 1883.


T.C.

Santa Barbara, CA

June, 2014





 TOBY CAMPION

This play was the winner of the 2004 Writing Award handed out by Kumu Kahua Theatre in Honolulu.  It was presented at Whittier College in a workshop production directed by Linda Dangcil.

THE QUEEN AND THE BISHOP

A Play in Two Acts, 

with Dance and Music