SMALL TOWN * BIG ART “Birds of a Feather” Free Shows Feb. 7

February 6, 2020, 9:35 AM HST · Updated February 6, 9:35 AM
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PC: SMALL TOWN * BIG ART project “Birds of a Feather”

On Friday, Feb. 7, 2020, during the Wailuku First Friday event, the Maui Academy of Performing Arts will present its SMALL TOWN * BIG ART project “Birds of a Feather” free of charge for the public at the 2027 Main Street studio. Show times are at 6:15 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

An original musical set on Maui written by Kathy Collins with music by Marti Kluth, the show is performed by MAPA’s troupe of professional performers: Kathy Collins, Logan Heller, Carlyn Leal, and Kiegan Otterson with live music performed by Gilbert Emata. The story follows Moa (the Hawaiian chicken), Pīkake (the peacock), and Manuʻaipilau (the mynah) who struggle to accept and appreciate their differences. To their great surprise, they learn that they are actually more alike than not, and they ultimately discover that their community is stronger because of their diversity.

According to MAPA Assistant Artistic Director Hōkū Pavao Jones, the original intent of the organization’s ST*BA proposal was to engage local playwright Kathy Collins to tell a story inspired by Pele’s eruption on Hawaiʻi Island in 2018. “But then came the outcry of the Mauna,” she said, “which made us think: maybe this wasn’t the story that WE needed to be telling from MAPA as we the people are finding our collective voice. Everyone, not just Hawaiians, were feeling the call. Maybe what was needed was a remembrance that we may all believe in different things. We all hear the call. We are all so alike in so many ways – but we tend to focus on differences.”

Hōkū goes on to tell a story about a fellow rally-goer that went to Mauna Kea wondering whether or not he was “worthy” to be there, but came to feel an incredible sense of belonging that disappeared as soon as he returned home. “It was so apparent to him how things were just different,” she said, “that’s how the story came to be. We weren’t meaning to write it or tell it. But our core audience (children) should hear the story of what he was feeling without being told. This is what theater is all about; talking about what is not being said in a way that people can really hear.”

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In this way, “Birds of a Feather” is inspired by ʻōlelo noʻeau E aloha kekahi i kekahi, or love one another.

“Wailuku is a gathering place, and has been for centuries,” said Hōkū, “Kathy took a day to walk around Wailuku and pick the four birds for the play based on four people that she saw in Wailuku, and the cultures and aloha that they represent.”

Over the past 30 years, MAPA’s Educational Theatre Tours have been a “gateway” theatre experience for generations of Maui keiki. Often students’ first-ever exposure to live theatre, the tours feature original scripts written by local playwrights like Kathy Collins and Derek Nakagawa, and original music written and performed by Maui musicians. With professionally designed costumes, sets and props, the plays are performed by MAPA’s professional actors and give students a full theatrical experience. The scripts and production values promote artistic excellence as well as educational value and address relevant child issues like friendship, respect, integrity or bullying – with age-appropriate humor and clear and accessible story lines that offer life lessons.

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