Pua Johnson

Jacquelyn Pualani Johnson, Professor Emerita, was born and raised in Hilo, Hawai’i, and earned B.A. and M.A. degrees in Theatre from the University of Colorado at Boulder where she toured Colorado and Wyoming with the Colorado Caravan in the 1970s. In 1978, she founded the Hilo Community Players’ Shakespeare in the Park, celebrating 47 years in Kalākaua Park in 2024, and Kid Shakes, the accompanying family offering. She retired from the Performing Arts Department at the University of Hawai`i at Hilo in 2017, after 38 years as a drama professor and department chair, where she directed musicals, classics, and contemporary Western and Ethnic theatre.

Her recent writing, directing, and performance projects have focused on the living history of Hawaiian aliʻi, royalty, during the monarchy period and the immigration cultures that sought a better life in Hawaiʻi. These projects help illuminate her mixed heritage of Hawaiian, Portuguese, Norwegian, German, and Chinese, stemming from the Plantation Era in Hawaiʻi. She remains active in retirement, adapting children’s books into a musical, writing another about early union history, and working with Native Hawaiian youth in performing arts programs.

During her career, Prof. Johnson served on the Hawaiʻi Council for the Humanities, both as Board Chair and as director for the living history project Getting Somewheres, about working women in plantation fields and factories in the early 20th century Hawaiʻi.

A wise saying from the Hawaiian perspective guides her career:

‘Aʻohe pau ka ‘ike i ka hālau hoʻokahi.

One can learn from many sources.