Friday, October 25, 2002



Prince Sa-iir (Brent Parker, left) is turning into a vampire, driving him to feed on his bodyguard Savaal (Viet Vo) in Theatricus' production of "The Mysterious Stranger: A Vampire Tale."

Bloody good time
in Manoa

‘Vampire Tale’ draws audiences into its world

Monsters rule terror tunnel

By Nancy Arcayna

A new breed of vampires will take over Manoa Valley in Theatricus' production "The Mysterious Stranger: A Vampire Tale," this weekend and next.

"The vampires are not afraid of crosses and stuff like that," said director and producer Brett Joubert. Instead, the relic the vampires fear most is an egg holding the last remaining dragon.

"The vampires can't get anywhere near it," said Joubert, who added the production "will be familiar to the audience, because it's very much like the classics with the haunted house, a party of adventures and an old temple way up in the middle of the mountains. It's very creepy, and then we introduce the element of environmental theater."

A mixture of candles and lanterns will light the proceedings, casting eerie shadows combined with chilling sound effects. The audience members will be sitting inside the old temple, created within the Manoa Valley District Park pavilion.

"We are actually casting them as ghosts, without them even knowing it. It's a rich kind of experience. It's not the kind of show you watch, then applaud and go home. It's definitely not a hit-and-run kind of thing.

"I wanted to stay away from the traditional notion that audience goes to one place, actors goes in another direction."

"The Legend of Romney Black -- Chapter II," otherwise known as the "Vampire Tale," is the continuation of Joubert's first fantasy-adventure story from a couple of years ago, in which the Crown Prince of Cong Manaar and his entourage are swallowed alive by a violent storm. From out of the shadows a strange, silent figure guides them to the safety of a mountain temple haunted by the spirits of war, an unspeakable, ancient evil.

"I was interested in getting back to the story line and was fortunate to get several of the actors from the first production to reprise their roles. And we really wanted to do something scary for Halloween."

Unfortunately, the chairs for audience members are contemporary rentals. But otherwise, the set will have tattered curtains, banners, an altar and dim lighting to pass for 500 years old. "The old stone pillars and cement flooring of the pavilion are a good start," Joubert said.

FANTASY THEATER is not new to Joubert. As a youngster in New Jersey, he and a small group of friends constantly battled to save the world from evildoers. With a towel pinned around his neck, he found a neighbor's flagpole to be the quickest route to the Batcave.

Then came the trials and challenges of the real world. "I was still fighting the same evils, but the towel and clothespin had to go in for a trade," said Joubert.

He arrived in Hawaii three years ago wanting "to teach local actors those skills -- how to improvise. Not only do you get to know and become the character, but the audience gets really close to what you are doing," he said. "Audience members can actually step into the lives of these characters."

As for the Halloween performances, he said, "People who decide to go should prepare for a little chicken skin and be prepared to watch their back."

There will be no clear line between the audience and the performers, and a lot of the action will be happening in the middle of the crowd. When the actors are trapped in a storm in the mountains, their fear will be real, though there will be no director telling them how to respond.

Actions will be much more organic than the usual stage performance, explained Joubert.

The earlier Theatricus production featured lots of knights and armor. Part 2 will bring back the same characters and actors but has added blood and gore.

"Blood will not be shooting all over the place like in 'Braveheart.' But when you have a monster chewing on someone's neck, there is no way to avoid the blood," said Joubert. "It's a bit of a roller coaster ride.

"We took a brazen step and are saying in our flyers that parental discretion is advised -- not because there is sex or bad language, but because it's scary and there is a lot of blood. I wouldn't bring little children because they might just have nightmares for a very long time."

'The Mysterious Stranger: A Vampire Tale'

When: 7:30 p.m. tomorrow, next Friday and Nov. 2
Where: Manoa Valley District Park, pavilion area
Admission: $12, $8 for students and seniors. Advance tickets are available at Gecko Books, 3613 Waialae Ave. Tickets will not be available at the door.
Call: 734-8237

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