'It's a risk to do this show," drama teacher Chris Kepler is telling his acting class at King Kekaulike High School. "If we don't pull it off, it makes us look like we don't care, like we think it's a joke."
And if they do pull it off, as they surely will, they could change lives - or even save them.
"Go Ask Alice" is the raw, heavy story of a 16-year-old girl who stumbles into drug addiction and can't get out. Told in her own words, Alice's story begins when she tries drugs in an effort to be popular at school. Based on a real teenager's diary from the 1970s, it's a disturbing look at the realities of drug abuse, teen angst and peer pressure.
HALEY DAVIS photo
Katerina Camit has the title role in King Kekaulike’s hard-hitting “Go Ask Alice,” playing a 16-year-old girl who wants to be accepted at home and in school.
Photo provided by the Maui Arts & Cultural Center
The Big Island’s Halau O Kekuhi brings the hula drama “Hi‘iaka: Ka Wahinepo‘aimoku” to the MACC’s Castle Theater Saturday.
It's a weighty show, and not an easy one for new actors to tackle. But the students are into it. During the rehearsal that I watch, there are some giggles, some talk of hair and makeup, some clowning around. But overall, the mood is very serious.
Pacing the simple bedroom set, actress Kat Camit tosses her blue- and yellow-streaked hair as she delivers the lines she's been working hard for weeks to memorize.
"Nerve-wracking!" is how Camit describes the experience of portraying Alice Aberdeen. "It's really sad what she goes through, and the ending is really surprising and heavy This may make people think. Parents may go home and talk to their kids about drugs."
Looking out at the serene views from this lovely Upcountry campus, it's hard to believe these kids can identify with the gritty underworld of drugs depicted in the play. But unfortunately, they can.
"This is what a lot of kids are doing," says Kailynn Brittain, who plays Peg. "It's a good show for people to realize how drugs can overtake your life. It is a real diary, and this is the outcome."
Kepler, who's in his second year of teaching drama at King Kekaulike, knows the dangers of choosing such a volatile topic as teen drug use. But he says the students wanted more than the melodrama and comedy of last year; they wanted something relevant.
"This is the first show I've ever been involved with where the primary purpose, the underlying intention, is not to entertain, but to send a message," Kepler says. "We know it's a risk, but sometimes you never get people's attention unless you shock them a bit, right?"
Not to say that the play will be all gloom and doom. Kepler promises some funny dialogue and light-hearted moments before "all hell breaks loose."
Despite repeated efforts to get clean, Alice's addiction ultimately results in her death.
"What is it?" Kepler asks the students. "It's a waste! It's such a waste of this girl's life. That's what we want people leaving here thinking."
And who better to bring the message than the ones most at risk?
The Peer Education Program students, as an integrated project with the drama students, will have an informational table set up at the shows and will distribute flyers, pamphlets, and other information regarding substance abuse, high-risk behaviors and making good choices.
Although the play is much milder than the book version (leaving out the hard sexuality and profanity), it is still not appropriate for children under 11. The play is produced by special arrangement with The Dramatic Publishing Co., Woodstock, Ill. Showtimes are 7 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday; and Friday and Saturday, Feb. 5 and 6, in the King Kekaulike student dining room. Tickets are $6 for adults; $4 for students; available at the door.
Halau O Kekuhi brings a long-awaited mele hula drama from the Big Island to the Maui Arts & Cultural Center's Castle Theater. "Hi'iaka:Ka Wahinepo'aimoku" is the sequel to the 1995's "Holo Mai Pele," which aired nationwide on PBS' "Great Performances" in 2001. The new work by na kumu hula Pualani Kanaka'ole Kanahele and Nalani Kanaka'ole describes the journey of Hi'iakaikapoliopele to fetch the lover of Pelehonuamea, Lohi'au, the chief of Ha'ena in Kauai.
"Pele and Hi'iaka in mele form may be our ancestral/geological tradition, an insight as to how we may deal with eruptive/cleansing cycles like with the fall of Pana'ewa, the mo'o god of Pana'ewa forest," Kanaka'ole says.Highlights include a lepa dance, describing how land boundaries were marked by ti leaves and white tapa flags to protect the area from inundation;and hulihia chants, referring to an eruptive phase that changes the landscape physically, socially and psychologically.Showtime is 7:30 p.m. Saturday. Tickets are $12, $25 and $40. 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 public is also invited to a free lecture demonstration to share understanding of the hula drama at 6 p.m. Friday in the MACC's McCoy Studio Theater.
"A Night in Wailea" is the story of a lonely, gay cinematic icon (played by Dale Button) who invites two unknown actors (William Makozak and Brian Peoples) into his Wailea mansion one evening, and is then subjected to their cruelty. The one-act play is the work of offbeat Maui playwright Peoples, and is directed by Derek Nakagawa.
Pat Masumoto hosts the show at her Gallerie Ha in Wailuku and gives a preview of her "My Mama Monologues, 2010" during the second half of the evening. Due to extremely graphic language, this play is suitable for adults only. Showtimes are 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Tickets are $5 at the door. For details, call 244-3993.
Maui's own talented Judy Ridolfino brings her ensemble of over 120 dancers to the MACC's Castle Theater at 7 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 6. This year's show is called "Count on Me," and features dances with a "numbers" theme.The jazz and tap dancers in Judy's Gang range in age from 3 to the "Kaunoa teenagers" (senior citizens), some of whom have been dancing with Ridolfino for over a decade. Tickets are $14 for adults, $10 for seniors and students age 6 to 12; free for keiki age 5 and younger.
Following up last weekend's successful performance with the Maui Pops Orchestra, the dance performance groups of Maui Academy of Performing Arts will give a free show at 6:30 p.m. Friday at the Maui Mall. Subsequent monthly shows will be Feb. 19, March 19 and April 16. For more information about MAPA's performance groups, visit www.mauiacademy.org.