Hawai’i-born writer/director Lorenzo DeStefano
interviewed by PBS Hawai’i’s Leslie Wilcox
“Long Story Short” host Leslie Wilcox interviews Honolulu-born filmmaker and writer Lorenzo DeStefano,
whose work explores the hidden lives of those who are often overlooked in society.
DeStefano wrote and directed “Shipment Day” (www.shipmentdayplay.com), a critically acclaimed play that had its world premiere
at O’ahu’s Manoa Valley Theatre in late 2018. It tells the true story of his cousin Olivia Robello Breitha, who contracted leprosy at 18
and was exiled to Kalaupapa, Moloka’i, where she spent the next 70 years of her life, until her death there in 2006.
Leslie discusses this unique and compelling project with Lorenzo as well as his impressive body of work in Film, Television, Theater, Fiction, Non-Fiction and Photography, and how growing up in Hawai’i has formed his unique perspective on the world.
PBS HAWAII – “GET CAUGHT READING” Series – Lorenzo DeStefano – April 4, 2019
Hawaii-born writer/director Lorenzo DeStefano reads an excerpt from “Olivia-My Life of Exile in Kalaupapa”, the memoir by his late cousin, the renowned author & leprosy activist Olivia Robello Breitha (1916-2006).
OLIVIA’S BOOK available from Pacific Historic Parks – https://pacifichistoricparksbookstore.org/products/50023
OLIVIA’S AUDIOBOOK available from Audible – https://www.audible.com/pd/Olivia-Audiobook/B01MXYSFX1
— HONOLULU REVIEWS & AUDIENCE COMMENTS —
“SHIPMENT DAY’ RECALLS PAINFUL ERA IN HAWAII HISTORY – A beautifully staged look at a painful era in island history.
The playwright/director and a consistently talented cast bring the story to life with memorable success.”
– Theater Review by John Berger, Honolulu Star Advertiser 11.10.18
“HAWAII-BORN LORENZO DESTEFANO EXPLORES TRAGIC ERA IN ‘SHIPMENT DAY”
-Feature article by John Berger, Honolulu Star Advertiser 11.2.18
“KALIHI TO KALAUPAPA: A NEW PLAY SHARES ONE WOMAN’S STORY OF SURVIVING EXILE.
LOCAL-BORN ACTRESS FINDS UNEXPECTED CLUES TO HER OWN FAMILY’S MYSTERY IN HAWAI’I.”
-Feature article by Robbie Dingeman, Honolulu Magazine 11.9.18
“SHIPMENT DAY’ DESCRIBES THE SENSE OF FEAR THAT SURROUNDED A DIAGNOSIS OF LEPROSY, AND NOT ONLY FOR THE PATIENT.”
-Radio story by Dave Lawrence & Catherine Cruz -Hawaii Public Radio 11.8.18
“SHIPMENT DAY’ HIGHLIGHTS DARK CHAPTER IN HAWAII HISTORY, A STORY ABOUT A LOCAL WOMAN WHOSE LIFE IS TURNED UPSIDE DOWN WHEN SHE IS DIAGNOSED WITH HANSEN’S DISEASE AND SENT TO LIVE IN KALAUPAPA ON MOLOKAI.”
– Interview by Maleko McDonnell/ KITV 4 Island News 11.6.18
“SHIPMENT DAY’ BREAKS THE STIGMA OF PATIENTS ASSOCIATED WITH HANSEN’S DISEASE.”
Interview by Trini Kaopuiki Clark, KHON “Living 808” 11.5.18
TV Interview w/ Emmie Ortega-Anderson, Think Tech Hawaii – 10.30.18
“MVT’S 50TH ANNIVERSARY SEASON CONTINUES WITH MOVING WORLD PREMIERE OF ‘SHIPMENT DAY”
-Broadway World 10.31.18
“Exciting, heart wrenching, and peppered with comedy to ease the tension here and there, Shipment Day invites you to experience Olivia Robello’s story yourself. ..poignant and beautiful…this is a very interesting and important story to tell.”
Hitting the Stage
“Instantly riveting. A highly relevant, first-person story.”
“Speaks to an important chapter in Hawaiiʻs history.”
“Shipment Day is about humans and our treatment of each other, about connection and yearning, loneliness and fear, fulfillment, hate, ignorance. This play has it all. Major standing ovation.”
“So very touched by this brilliant presentation. How blessed we were to be introduced to this inspiring lady.”
“Very movingly performed. Actors committed to telling this story.”
“History comes alive. How has a story like this not been told before?”
“Amazing show. Loved everything about it.”
“A touching, eye opening true story. An emotional and entertaining play.”
“The characters are dynamic and well-rounded. A must see.”
“Makes the far away past be immediately right at our doorstep here and now
in all its horrific, moving, tangible, shame-inducing intensity.”
Imagine that you have stumbled upon a family secret, a relative in exile that no one in your immediate family has ever spoken of.
Intrigued, you meet that relative, a Portuguese cousin, and spend the next seventeen years, until her death,
getting to know the circumstances of her life, her struggles and her quiet achievements.
Such was the case when Hawaii-born playwright & director, Lorenzo DeStefano, learned about his cousin,
Olivia Robello Breitha.
“SHIPMENT DAY” is set in Honolulu between 1934 and 1937 and dramatizes Olivia’s traumatic early life experiences.
It chronicles her diagnosis with the condition at 18, her two and a half year confinement at Kalihi Hospital,
to the day before her shipment to Kalaupapa, the Hansen’s disease settlement on Molokai where,
as Hawaii State Department of Health parolee #3306, Olivia would spend the next seventy years of her life,
until her death there in 2006 at the age of 90.
In addition to his extensive work as a photographer, writer and filmmaker, Honolulu-born Lorenzo DeStefano’s plays include “Shipment Day”,
a November 2018 world premiere for the 50th season of the Hawai’i Performing Arts Company/Manoa Valley Theatre in Honolulu.
First developed at the Road Theatre Company in Los Angeles as a one-act,
“Shipment Day” won Best Play at the 2016 Playbuilders of Hawaii New Works Festival.
DeStefano’s other plays include “221 Finchley Lane”, adapted from his novel.
“Camera Obscura” is a dramatization of 17million word “Inman Diary”, published by Harvard University Press.
Developed at Seattle Repertory Theatre, the play received its world premiere at the Almeida Theatre in London,
both productions helmed by the celebrated English director Jonathan Miller.
“The Inman Diaries”, a chamber opera based on DeStefano’s play,
received its world premiere in September 2007 at the Intermezzo Opera Company, Boston.
“Providence” is DeStefano’s stage adaptation of the screenplay by the late English dramatist David Mercer.
DeStefano’s theater directing credits include “Shipment Day”, “Providence”, the 25th anniversary Los Angeles production of William Inge’s “Natural Affection”, for which he won a Drama-Logue award, Horton Foote’s “The One-Armed Man”, “Jitters” by David French, the world premiere of Robert Schenkkan’s “Conversations with the Spanish Lady”, and the world premiere of “Twisted Twain”, the one-man show by Bill Erwin.
The new edition of Olivia’s deeply moving autobiography,
“Olivia-My Life of Exile in Kalaupapa”, in print since 1988, is now available from
The Audiobook of “Olivia-My Life of Exile in Kalaupapa”
now available from
Produced by Lorenzo DeStefano & Benjamin Hamilton
Narrated by Deanna Espinas
Length: 6 hrs and 16 mins
Release Date: 12-20-16
Publisher: The Estate of Olivia Robello Breitha
Shipment Day Productions / Lorenzo DeStefano