'Edgy and sexy"- that's the direction Maui Slam coordinator Ellen Peterson wants to take the island's popular adult poetry slam.
At last month's slam, body painter Rachel DeBoer painted a live model onstage, using glow-in-the-dark paint to adorn the model with words and phrases as they flowed out from the poets at the mike. That's the kind of free-form creativity Peterson is hoping to highlight at every event.
Maui Slam founders Chela and Dave Coennen "gifted" Peterson with Maui Slam when they moved to Oahu earlier this year. Already busy with her day job as a Maui Community College librarian and her after-hours commitments as a Kit Kat Club founder and performer - not to mention her own regular attendance at poetry slam events - Peterson was tempted to turn down the gift.
Model Cita provided the “canvas” for body painter Rachel DeBoer at last month’s Maui Slam.
But instead, she and fellow creative spirit Terez Amato Lindsey dove right in: they visited Kealoha's HawaiiSlam First Thursday on Oahu (monthly attendance of 600 people), talked to poets and organizers, studied the Coennens' files, took notes and networked, and put an ad on Facebook (which really works, according to Peterson.)
Through their efforts, they have been able not only to keep the slam alive, but to add new dimensions - taking the event from a traditional slam to a more diverse artistic experience.
"We are trying to bring in a variety of unique and original artists, but still center it around literary art, because that's always at the core," Peterson says.
The result is somewhat of a "cross between Burning Man and Maui Slam." Burning Man, the radical creative event held in the Black Rock Desert every summer, has changed people's expectations of art to be more free-form and spontaneous. "It's building a community around art," Peterson says, "not only visual art, but musical art as well."
That might mean music with a message like that spun by Maui's popular DJ Boomshot, or lyrical jams and conscious hip-hop by the Unsung Mighty Few.
It could mean edgy writers like the featured guest at tonight's slam, author Jack Boulware, co-founder of the Bay Area's Litquake Literary Festival. Or VJ Douglas DeBoer, also performing tonight, who takes his cues from the poets as he incorporates their words into beautiful video art images of nature, movement and femininity.
The feminine element is something Peterson and Lindsey are hoping to emphasize as Maui Slam evolves. "A lot of slam poets are male, and it can be very intense and heavy," Peterson says. "We wanted to add a different element to counterbalance that."
Male or female, old or young (but over 21, please) - spoken word artists, poets and emcees of all levels are invited to get onstage at the slam and throw down their best original work of three minutes or less in competition for a $100 cash prize.
Tonight's Maui Slam at Casanova has a "hot summer" theme, and costumes and props are encouraged. In addition to offerings by Boulware, Douglas DeBoer, DJ Boomshot and the poets, there will be a themed photo booth and free raffle prizes. Doors open at 9:30 p.m. Cover is $5. For more information, visit www.mauislam.com.
Maui is also home to Aloha Slam, an all-ages poetry slam coordinated by award-winning slam artist Pat Masumoto. The next Aloha Slam will be held at 8 p.m. following First Friday festivities on Friday, Aug. 7, at Gallerie Ha in Wailuku. For more information, e-mail Pat@PatMasumoto.com.
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Last weekend to catch the action over at the "Chicken Ranch," that is, the Historic Iao Theater. Maui OnStage presents the fun and sassy musical "The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas," the true tale of a famous bordello that ran for years under the watchful eye of its very attractive proprietor and the town sheriff. Natalie Raynes stars as Miss Mona, and Michael Pulliam is the cussin,' snortin' Ed Earl Dodd. When TV reporter Melvin P. Thorpe (Lee Garrow) raises an outcry to close the place down, the governor of Texas (Paul Janes-Brown) must finally make a stand. Kristi Scott directs the large cast of Mona's Girls, Aggie Boys, Watchdogs, patrons, farmers, politicians and reporters; and Steven Dascoulias directs the Chicken Pluckers Band. Music and lyrics are by Carol Hall, with book by Larry L. King and Peter Masterson. The play is based on a short story by King originally published in Playboy magazine in 1974. "The Best Little Whorehouse" is not appropriate for children. Showtimes are 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 3 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $20 for adults, $18 for students and seniors, $15 for Sunday matinees; available at If the Shoe Fits in Wailuku and Lava Java in Kihei, online at www.mauionstage.com or by calling 242-6969.
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Maui OnStage will hold open auditions for its 2009-'10 season beginning at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 8, at the Historic Iao Theater. The season begins with "The Odd Couple" (already cast), and continues with "Annie," "To Kill a Mockingbird," "Godspell" and "The Wedding Singer." Singers will audition from 1 to 3 p.m. and should prepare 32 bars from both a ballad and up-tempo piece, and bring music in the correct key. Nonsingers will audition from 3:15 to 5 p.m. and should prepare a one-minute comedic monologue and a dramatic reading/monologue. All auditioners should bring a resume and headshot. To make an appointment or for more information, call 244-8680.
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Citing "overwhelming response" from parents and children enjoying the show, Cirque Polynesia is offering free admission to children 12 and younger with the purchase of an adult ticket. Doug Harris, the show's managing partner, says the offer is their way of giving back to families.
"Children are some of the toughest critics," he says. "The fact that they enjoy the show so much makes our entire team proud." Through Aug. 31, every adult purchasing a regular show-only ticket can receive a free child's admission ($52.50 value).
Cirque Polynesia opened last month at the Hyatt Regency Maui Resort & Spa in Kaanapali and gave free performances to children with Big Brother Big Sisters of Maui, Autism Bridges Maui and Best Buddies Hawaii. The show features international cirque artists performing high-wire acts, aerial acrobatics, balancing acts and more. Showtimes are 7 every night except Tuesday. Tickets start at $62; dinner packages are also available; online at www.cirquepolynesia.com. For the special keiki offer, call 667-4540.
* Contact Sky Barnhart at firstname.lastname@example.org.