Maui OnStage’s 2018 Maui Fringe Fest takes place this weekend at the Iao Theater in Wailuku. This year’s festival features some incredible, award-winning playwrights and actors, as well as some new faces to Maui. From lighthearted musicals to intense retrospectives, the Maui Fringe Fest has something for every theater lover. I sat down with three of the festival’s playwrights to talk about their performances this year.
David LeBarron, a fringe fest veteran, first performed his piece The Sex Life of Achilles at Hollywood Fringe seven years ago. Now a mentor at the Hollywood festival, LeBarron is excited to share his piece with Maui residents and talk with aspiring young artists. His play revolves around the ancient Greek hero Achilles, and follows his love affair with Patroclus. It’s been called a bawdy, and heartbreaking retelling of the tragic story of Achilles, told through the eyes of three mourners the hero left behind.
“It’s interesting,” said LeBarron. “Seven years ago there was a lot of flack towards the concept of bisexuality.” He described an opening scene where he had to explain to the audience that there were no sexual restrictions in these ancient times. “Now fluidity has become such a mainstay that we dropped that whole part,” he said. It’s a change LeBarron is happy to see.
Theatre has long been a vessel for telling stories, and many artists use this vessel to tell the truths of the world around us. Qurrat Ann Kadwani is one such playwright. Her play They Call Me Q was the 2013 Maui Fringe Fest winner, and she’s excited to be back on Maui performing a new piece, Intrusion.
It’s set 20 years in our future, when rape has seemingly been eradicated from society. Then one woman comes forward.
“We see the views of eight different characters that represent different sectors of our society: a politician, a prosecutor, psychologist, theater professor, a school child and several others, and how [this event] has impacted them,” she said. “What starts to happen is this future society starts to reflect our current society.”
The idea for the play came to her after hearing about the fatal gang rape of Jyoti Singh in India, a horrible crime that made headlines around the world in 2012. Kadwani said she wondered why only this one case made the news, when rape is such a global problem that happens in so many different ways.
“It’s a problem we wish didn’t exist, so we brush it under the rug,” she said. “I try to give a big scope of the issue so that the audience can come out of the show feeling like they received an education.”
Then there’s Alison Logan, known as New Orleans’ “Original Classy Broad,” will present her comedy Courted. It’s a presentation of heartfelt but hilarious bad relationship stories that led Logan to where she is today. Consider it a comedic journey that makes the audience the final jury on bad boyfriends.
“There was a lot of comedy fodder in my own life experiences, and I figured I should capitalize on my misery,” said Logan. “I think it’s definitely relatable, and I want the audience to leave saying, ‘Guess what, she hasn’t found the one yet, but she’s still a good human being and she’s happy.’”
And that’s just three of the eight or so shows the Maui Fringe Festival is offering this year.
“Fringe theater is all about embracing the new and taking a leap of faith,” said Michael Pulliam, who coordinates the festival each year. “These artists take the leap to present personal passion projects. It’s a chance to witness artists presenting brand new theater, and even world premieres that no one has ever seen, right here on Maui.”
Photos courtesy Maui OnStage