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People's Theatre

Honokaa is located on the Hamakua coast of the Island of Hawaii. Its name means “the sound of the stones rolling in the bay”. It developed between 1881 and 1904 as one of the plantations community and survived on the cane sugar business until 1994. It was one of the biggest Japanese communities of the Island.

As one walks into town the buildings all have a distinctive design. It was the one given by the Hawaii Sugar Planters Association and developed to be a “plantation architecture”, featuring single-wall constructions, standardized components such as double-hung windows and corrugated iron roofs.

In 1930 Mr Hatsuzo Tanimoto builds a Theater. It’s still standing today and to my surprise also open and running movies.

As I walked in I was welcomed by the smell of fresh pop-corns and the smile of Dr. Tawn Keeney.

When I introduced myself as a photographer with an addiction for cinemas, Tawn explained me his own love story with the People’s Theater.

He bought the place in 1985 right when the Kawatachi family was about to close it. Then in 2016 upon his retirement as a Doctor, he decided to run it. He told me the rite to go to the cinema is coming back and that he has seen a slow but steady rise in clients. Tawn has improved the Theatre and it’s now known to be the best concert venue on the island of Hawaii. During owr chat, two teen agers came by to take out the popcorns. Between memorabilia and reality, the People’s Theater stands still and in great hands.

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