'Birth" is back!
In September 2007, the powerful play by journalist Karen Brody spread a message of empowered childbirth in performances across the nation, including three shows to more than 750 people on Maui. The play generated lively and productive discussion about today's childbirth climate, and caused more than a few women (myself included) to change the way they approached the birthing process.
But that awareness is only the tip of the iceberg, says Maui "Birth" director Robin Garrison. In order to really make a difference, the play needs to reach a broader and more local audience.
Joanna Tano photo
Jeana Naluai, Kathy Collins, Chasity Nohealani Cadaoas and Jennifer Noelani Ahia bring the empowering “Birth” back to the Historic Iao Theater.
"For the last show, there were midwives, doulas (childbirth labor assistants) and a lot of people who were already aware of empowering births," Garrison says. "The local community was not represented in the audience and they are the ones giving birth in our hospital."
This time, Garrison brought together a cast of "strong, wise, empowered women from our community": Kathy Collins, comedienne and co-founder of Mana'o Radio; Venus Rosete-Hill, executive director of Neighborhood Place of Wailuku; Jeana Naluai, owner of Hale Ho'omana Cultural Education Center; and Chasity Nohealani Cadaoas, Ki'inaniokalani Kaho'ohanohano and Jennifer Noelani Ahia representing Na Wahine O Kauhi A Kama. Their characters' true stories of childbirth make up a play that is at times funny, sad, moving and uplifting - and certainly thought-provoking.
"Birth" is performed as part of BOLD, a global activist theater movement that focuses on the treatment of low-risk pregnant mothers in labor as a human rights issue.
"Pregnancy today is typically viewed as an illness and emergency," states Brody, who founded BOLD in 2006 to raise people's consciousness that childbirth is normal.
"Once this is recognized, people will start demanding a childbirth model of care that is compassionate, evidence-based and puts the mother at the center of her birth experience."
"It is crucially important for anyone who is going to give birth or knows someone who is going to give birth to know that there are choices, and that the woman giving birth has a voice," Garrison says. "She has a voice to choose a planned C-section if she wants. She has a voice to refuse an episiotomy. She has a voice to be comfortable in her birth (if there are no complications). She has a choice to be empowered, inspired and make her birth experience the best experience it can be."
The good news, Garrison says, is that since the last presentation of "Birth" at the Historic Iao Theater, the birthing community on Maui has slowly started to warm to a more mother-friendly approach. A group of doctors, nurses, midwives and doulas formed the Bridge Committee, which aims to bridge the gap between home and hospital birth, and meets regularly to discuss ways to improve maternity care on Maui. A breast-feeding task force was established at Maui Memorial Medical Center, helping to ensure crucial skin-to-skin contact and initial bonding between mom and baby.
"It's a little at a time," Garrison says. "People are getting the message, but not enough We are hoping that the cast will attract their 'ohana and that each one from there will teach another. We are also looking into community outreach for the play and are hoping to perform in the prison and other community settings. We're doing a one-act play (instead of two-act), so that there's time afterwards for community discussion. We really want to make an impact and take some positive steps towards mother-friendly birth on Maui."
There will be one performance of "Birth" - at 3 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 1, at the Historic Iao Theater - followed by a "Talkback" discussion with nurses, doctors, midwives and doulas. The show will benefit Women Who Care, a nonprofit organization founded by Garrison with the goal of supporting women to make clear, healthy life choices. A book of the play, including stories from the BOLD movement, will be available for purchase at the event.
Newly returned from attending Saint Damien's canonization ceremony in Rome, Vinnie Linares will perform the one-man play "Damien" at 6:30 p.m. Saturday in the historic Hawaiian Keawala'i Congregational Church in Makena. Linares has performed the role more than 30 times on Maui. His recent pilgrimage promises to lend new inspiration to the powerful portrayal of Molokai's humble priest who gave his life to helping those with Hansen's disease. The play is a benefit for Somos Amigos - Nicaragua, a Pukalani-based nonprofit organization that partners with Nicaraguan villages to build schools and bring clean water and health services. Admission is free; donations to Somos Amigos are requested. For more information, call Charlotte Flavin at 572-9898.
Steppingstone Playhouse has been transformed into the dark and seedy Kit Kat Klub, a Berlin nightclub in the 1930s. "Cabaret" opens Friday, starring Tom Althouse as the Klub's temperamental Emcee, Lynnea Barry as cabaret performer Sally Bowles, E. John Messersmith as writer Clifford Bradshaw, Rose Roselinksy as boarding-house owner Frulein Schneider, and Dale Button as Jewish fruit vendor Herr Schultz. The Broadway musical is directed by Jonathan Lehman and produced by Professional Artists of the Pacific LLC, in association with Maui Academy of Performing Arts.
n Showtimes are 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays; 2 p.m. Sundays (except no show Oct. 25), with one 2 p.m. Saturday matinee on Nov. 14; running through Nov. 15. Tickets are $28 for reserved table seating (available only by phone), $25 for center section, and $22 for side section; available at the mall's Customer Service Desk or by calling 875-4367. For more information, visit www.proartspacific.com.
The outdoor production of "Romeo and Juliet" wraps up this weekend at Seabury Hall, after extending its run due to sold-out shows and rain. Written in the late 1500s, Shakespeare's rich language, bawdy humor and ultimately tragic love story still resonate with audiences worldwide. Here, the story is enacted by teenagers not much older than the original characters (her father says Juliet "hath not seen the change of 14 years").
Seabury alum Cassandra Wormser directs the cast of 19 young actors, with sword fighting coached by Daniel Vicars and costumes designed by Vanessa Cerrito. Showtimes are 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 5 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $11 for adults, $9 for senior citizens, $5 for students. Seating is limited, and audience members are advised to dress warmly. For reservations and more information, call 573-1257.
Jerry Eiting and Steven Dascoulias dive into the dark vault of Edgar Allan Poe with the Maui OnStage production of "The Cask of Amontillado." Poe's spine-chilling tale portrays a man so bent on revenge for some trivial matter that he concocts a thorough and maniacal plan to bury his "friend" alive. This original, one-act musical adaptation by Elliott Baker is a fitting way to get ready for the Halloween weekend. Alexis Dascoulias directs the show, which also features Casey Murphy, Miles Kelsey, Julie Kawamura and Gregg Bell.
* Showtimes are 7:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Tickets are $10, available by calling 242-6969.
Next weekend, the Historic Iao Theater becomes the popular Haunted Theater. Ghouls and goblins will guide brave visitors through the spooky maze, where they might even witness a live zombie "Thriller" attack. Strobe lights and fog machines make the event unsuitable for small children. The Haunted Theater is open from 6 to 9 p.m. on Thursday and Friday, Oct. 29 and 30; and from 6 to 10 p.m. on Halloween. Tickets are $2. For more information, visit www.mauionstage.com.
Me Talk Pretty One Day author David Sedaris brings his dry wit and sardonic observations to the Maui Arts & Cultural Center's Castle Theater at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 5. Sedaris was named "Humorist of the Year" by TIME Magazine in 2001, and was nominated for two Grammy Awards for Best Spoken Word Album and Best Comedy Album. His visit to Maui will include a Q&A session, book sales and signing of his new best-selling collection, "When You Are Engulfed in Flames." Tickets are $32, $39.50, $47 and $62. Applicable fees are added to tickets for all MACC shows, available at the MACC box office, by calling 242-7469 or online at www.mauiarts.org.