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Man Behind the Myth

Multitalented performer Moses Goods is bringing the legends of Hawai‘i to audiences near and far.

Styling by Crystal Pancipanci; Stylist’s assistant: Savannah Tatreau; Plaited wrap, price upon request, at marquesmarzan.com
Shot on location at Bishop Museum

It goes without saying that Moses Goods has presence. Tall and broad-shouldered, the Maui-raised performer attracts attention by his physical presence alone. Then, there’s his voice, capable of booming with an almost Olympian sense of authority. Add to this a keen ability to bring a character to life, and Goods would seem the ideal candidate to try his chances in L.A. or New York, like many other island talents have done.

But Goods deliberately took the path less chosen and decided to stay in the islands. Fortunately for us, he is now emerging as a distinct and much-appreciated voice in Hawai‘i’s close-knit performing community. Not only an actor, he is a storyteller and, in the most recent twist, an emerging playwright. His material is truly close to home. He has brought to life the mythology of Hawai‘i, creating a real, palpable experience for audiences from Honolulu to Washington, D.C.

It’s just the latest step in a journey that has taken Goods from performing in the show ‘Ulalena to taking Kaululā‘au, a one-man play on the celebrated Maui chief, to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in the U.K. More recently, Goods has shared his time between Bishop Museum and theatrical projects, leading him to be busier than ever. (He is also a hula dancer under Kumu Hula Māpuana de Silva.) Last year, for Honolulu Theatre for Youth, Goods debuted Lono’s Journey, an original play that recounts tales of the legendary Hawaiian deity. Echoing the likes of Joseph Campbell, Goods sees an inherent real-life value in these tales. “Storytelling is the best form of education,” he insists. Whether performing for kids or adults, Goods sees the storytelling as a collaborative process between himself and the audience, where the vision comes alive through their collective imagination. The result is often magical, for both young and old.

In fact, after the play’s debut, Goods received a personal invitation to perform at Four Seasons Resort Hualālai on Hawai‘i Island. Not surprising: Goods so impressed the Hualālai crowd that he’ll return this fall with fellow storyteller Kealoha Kelekolio.

And that’s just one part of his lineup for the rest of the year. At the moment, he is currently hard at work on a new play for HTY’s fall season. Entitled Kū Ā Mo‘o, the play delves into the realm of the mo‘o, the mysterious guardian spirits said to dwell in bodies of water. When asked about what motivates him to perform these works, Goods humbly replies, “It’s my kuleana (responsibility). It’s what I do well.”