Abstract

Widely acclaimed a foundational Oceanic playwright, Samoan American dramatist John Kneubuhl also wrote dozens of television scripts for programs such as The Fugitive and The Wild Wild West. As with his stage-dramas, many of these teleplays represent a masterful orchestration of diverse cultural traditions—an aesthetic nowhere more clear than in “Strangers in Our Own Land” (1968). In this early episode of Hawaii Five-O, Kneubuhl looks to his past as a playwright-cum-screenwriter and anticipates his future as Oceania’s foremost postcolonial dramatist. I argue that “Strangers in Our Own Land” reads as an adaptation of The Adding Machine (1923), the famous expression-ist play written by Elmer Rice, with whom Kneubuhl studied at Yale in the 1940s. Alluding to The Adding Machine, Kneubuhl offers a version of the play in which the anomic Mr. Zero becomes Benny Kalua (Simon Oakland), a native Hawaiian nightclub owner driven to murder by his participation in Honolulu’s exploitative tourist industry. “Strangers in Our Own Land” also evokes Kneubuhl’s earlier stage and screen works as well as intertexts such as John Dominis Holt’s “On Being Hawaiian” (1964). This small-screen drama should therefore be understood as a pivotal text that exemplifies the formal and thematic unity of Kneubuhl’s literary oeuvre.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1080-6490
Print ISSN
0003-0678
Pages
pp. 913-936
Launched on MUSE
2015-09-21
Open Access
No
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