I move ahead now to the final performance, the culmination of two weeks of heroic collaboration in the name of art. I am most hesitant to describe my impressions of the actors' performances and the play itself because I developed a real affection and admiration for The Players during the time I spent with them, and I question whether this will color my interpretation of the work.
(For Part one of this review, click here)
Having reviewed performances from the most mainstream to the most avant-garde, I am well aware of the broad spectrum of activity that can be called "performance art". The process I observed of actors entering into relationship scenarios over and over again in the preceding weeks is imbued with the technique known as "The Method". Seeing the final performances this past weekend, it struck me that what I was witnessing was not so much players acting, but striving to achieve authentic relationships for the purpose
of giving life to the words of the script.
I began to think of acting, not so much as representing life, but carefully practiced trickery to allow the audience an escape from life. There was no escape from life in the stories that unfolded at the project space called Inter-Island Terminal. Life possibilities flowed through The Players, captured in a moment of impassioned dialogue, and then took wing into the future. This was my overall impression.
Location, location, location.... The setting for a performance means something. The environment in which a performance unfolds possesses its own character, enveloping and coloring the tone of the play. The setting for Co-lab Kaka'ako (Inter-island Terminal)
powerfully enhanced the reality, the rawness of the dialogue. The program describes IIT's mission as follows: "Since 2009, the mission of Inter-Island Terminal is to present programs and exhibitions in contemporary Art, Film and Design and to advance the role of the arts in innovation". It goes on to explain the vision of this space, a "home-base" for Hawaii's creative community. It has a "West Side Story" feel to it, with it's open studios and large central warehouse. The upper level walls had been painted with large graffiti-scapes which made an excellent backdrop for a number of the scenes. Simple folding chairs were provided for the audience, and the glow of a few stage lights defined the stage. The use of props was sparse: a jacket, a blind, a stylized graffiti art-piece of an eastern goddess. Given the intimacy and focus of the scenes, and the drama of the project space itself, any more embellishment would have been a distraction.
The show began with the morning class's play, entitled "The Shift". Written by Jason Kanda, Produced by Harry Wong III Setting Kaka'ako, 1941 Actors: Lauren Ballesteros, Alex Hubbard, Kiana Rivera
I was quite frankly amazed that these players had only received the finished script three days prior to tonight's show. Their execution appeared flawless and effortless, their words filled with expression and all the passion and complexity that they had been building over the two weeks of preparation. I had missed the final rehearsal day at the performance space, and much action and movement had evolved from that one rehearsal.
The story line reveals a woman attempting to better the fortunes of herself and her family by taking work at a candy company in Kaka'ako (which actually existed in the 1940's). She must seek resolution between loyalty to her husband and his connections in the community, and loyalty to her coworkers who are being unfairly treated by a supervisor who also is connected to her husband's O'hana. It is a coming-of-age story about how the women in the factory develop friendships in their effort to take a stand for worker's rights.