Placid and predictable has never been Brian Peoples' style. The Maui playwright and actor has written some of the island's more offbeat plays over the last 10 years, delving into subjects like addiction, abuse, disabilities, AIDS, pedophilia, criminality - subjects that many playwrights and producers pass up in favor of more lighthearted fare.
It's not that Peoples is trying to upset anyone; it's just that he believes Maui's theatrical horizons could use some broadening.
"We have a monopoly in standards here that casts a very small net," he says. "We see musicals or little kids' plays, Victorian plays; nothing relative to our time or culture. I don't think that's healthy."
KEVIN CURRY photo
Playwright/actor Brian Peoples (from left) shares the stage with Dale Button and William Makozak in his edgy new one-act, “Night in Wailea.”
The Mark Morris Dance Group returns to the Maui Arts & Cultural Center’s Castle Theater for a concert tonight.
ROBBIE JACK photo
Peoples is moving to Europe with his wife, Claire, in June, but before he goes, he will share one last offering with Maui theatergoers: a new, one-act play titled "A Night in Wailea."
The play stars the incredible Dale Button as Raymond Chamberstein, an aging, gay cinematic icon who finds himself alone and lonely in his Wailea estate. When two handsome aspiring actors (William Makozak and Peoples) show up on his doorstep one evening, Raymond invites them in and almost becomes a victim of their twisted schemes. Peoples describes the play as a "chess match" between the actors, with fast-paced dialogue and moments that are both funny and terrifying.
The one-act format is something new for Peoples. His previous plays ("A Place for Penny" in 2001, "The Wrong Guy" in 2002, "Ci Vediamo, Mama" in 2004 and "Maui Space Alien Mystery" in 2008) have been standard length, but after being impressed by the popularity of one-acts in Europe, he wanted to give it a try.
Director Derek Nakagawa, who has been involved with some of Peoples' previous work, describes this one as his best yet.
"Brian has grown a lot since his first play," Nakagawa says. "I always liked his style because it was just weird; it was different. He has some personal demons that have unique ways of expressing themselves This is his swan song, and I'm glad to be a part of it."
For Pat Masumoto, who is hosting the play at her Gallerie Ha in Wailuku, the best part of the production is the "raw male energy."
"When someone like Brian shows up, I really like to support that creativity," she says. "Whether it's underground plays or youth music (or the popular Aloha Slam), youth and adults really need to express what's going on in their lives."
Peoples is hopeful that other up-and-coming playwrights will be motivated to share their work at venues like Galleria Ha. "If you don't have balance and fresh circulation, things are going to become stagnant," he says. "We want to show what's possible in theater."
Due to extremely graphic language, this play is suitable for adults only. The show includes a preview of Masumoto's "My Mama Monologues 2010."
* Showtimes are 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and next Friday and Saturday, Jan. 29 and 30. Tickets are $5. For more information, call 244-3993.
Almost a year after its performance was postponed at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center, the Mark Morris Dance Group is just hours away from gracing the Castle Theater with its exhilarating presence. Brooklyn, N.Y.-based MMDG is one of today's top modern dance companies, known for its eclectic and multi-award-winning founder and choreographer who draws inspiration from a range of genres. Morris sets his pieces to everything from Bach to opera to hip-hop, and incorporates live music into every dance performance.
* Showtime is 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $12, $30 and $45. 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.
The Comedy Hui's talented actors - Tom Althouse, Rachel Deboer, John Ziegler, Alexis Ziegler, Corky Gardner and Chino LaForge-share the light of laughter with West Maui tomorrow night at Lulu's in Lahaina. Directed by Amanda Taulere, the new troupe presents a complex style of comedy that relies heavily on audience input, similar to the TV show "Whose Line Is It Anyway?"
* Showtime is 9 p.m. Tickets are $15 at the door. For more information, visit The Comedy Hui on Facebook.
King Kekaulike High School's acting class tackles the dark world of drug addiction with the weighty drama "Go Ask Alice." Based on the diary of a teenager in the 1970s, the play tells the story of a girl named Alice who becomes addicted to drugs and follows a brutal spiral of recovery and relapse that eventually leads to her own tragic death. The play is not suitable for children under 11.
* Showtimes are 7 p.m. Jan. 29, 30 and 31, and Feb. 5 and 6, in the King Kekaulike student dining room. Tickets are $6 for adults; $4 for students; available at the door.
In 1995, a gripping hula drama called "Holo Mai Pele" premiered at the MACC. Fifteen years later, its sequel, "Ka Huaka'i O Wahinepo'aimoku," continues the traditional Hawaiian story of Pelehonuamea, volcano goddess, and her younger sister, Hi'iakaikapoliopele. The production is created and choreographed by na kumu hula Pualani Kanaka'ole Kanahele and Nalani Kanaka'ole of Halau O Kekuhi.
* Showtime is 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 30, at the MACC's Castle Theater. Tickets are $12, $25 and $40. The public is also invited to a free lecture demonstration to share understanding of the hula drama at 6 p.m. Friday, Jan. 29, in the MACC's McCoy Studio Theater.
On Saturday and Sunday, Broadway dancer and associate director/choreographer Tara Young will conduct workshops at Maui Academy of Performing Arts for young performers (ages 7 to 11 and 12-plus) on how to audition for a Broadway musical. The workshop for older students will be an actual audition for the national touring production of "The Little Mermaid."
* To register or for more information, visit www.mauiacademy.org or call 244-8760.
Celebrity instructor Patrick Bristow will teach a Song & Dance Improv Comedy Workshop from Jan. 25 to 29 in Kihei. Bristow has appeared in both the U.K. and U.S. versions of "Whose Line Is It Anyway?" as well as "Friends," "The Drew Carey Show," "Mad About You," "Seinfeld" and "Ellen." The workshop will be held from 6 to 10 nightly, and is open to all levels. Space is limited. For more information, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
MAPA recently purchased the dance floor that was custom built for Mikhail Baryshnikov's performance in the MACC's Castle Theater last year. According to Director of Programs Carolyn Wright, part of the floor will be installed in the new MAPA West studio in Kahana and the rest will enhance the Wailuku studios - and surely inspire the feet of young dancers!