Aldyth Morris, Playright
Aldyth Morris, author of the play Damien, was living in Honolulu, Hawaii, in 1936, when the body of the Flemish priest, Father Damien de Veuster, was exhumed from its grave at the Leper Settlement on the Hawaiian island of Molokai and brought back to the priest's native land of Belgium. It was another forty years until this play was written, but since its first performance, there seems always to be an actor, professional or amateur, who wants to perform the role. The play has been translated into Flemish, French, Japanese, and Spanish. It has been performed in Australia, Belgium, Japan, Hawaii, across the United States in Canada and in Edinburgh and Dublin. A television production of Damien by Hawaii Public Television has been shown throughout the United States, receiving a Peabody Award, and has been published for home viewing.
Morris wrote eight full-length plays. Four, including today's play, tell the stories of people of great strength and their influences on the history of Hawaii in the 18th and 19th centuries. Captain James Cook, on his second voyage around the world (one of the greatest voyages ever made) brought the Hawaiian Islands to the attention of the world; he later met his death in those islands. Robert Louis Stevenson, on his worldwide search for health, visited Hawaii and the Leper Settlement, and wrote his famous "Damien Letter." Lili'uokalani was the last queen of Hawaii; the overthrow of her monarchy led to the annexation of Hawaii by the United States.
Aldyth Morris was born in the Rocky Mountain town of Logan, Utah, and after living and working in San Francisco and New York, made her home in Honolulu for sixty years with her husband, architect Ray Morris. For many years she was managing editor of the University of Hawaii Press. She died in 1997 at the age of 95.