COURTESY MONKEY WATERFALL
Malia Yamamoto plays the character of "aloha" in Monkey Waterfall's production of "Shrines to Paradise." Wearing a mask, she represents an island icon, the dashboard hula girl.
Explore isles’ dual personality
A dance-theater group looks at the contrast between brochure-perfect Hawaii and the everyday Hawaii
Everyone's got a public self -- the one that gets cleaned up for the workday -- and a private self -- the one that, for example, drops clothes on the floor and drinks orange juice right out of the carton.
'Shrines to Paradise'
Show times: 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday
Place: Honolulu Hale
The state of Hawaii has the same dual imagery. There's the Hawaii of beaches, sunshine and hula girls. And the Hawaii we live every day, with its less romantic military bases, congestion, even homelessness.
Wander through Honolulu Hale on Friday and Saturday for an exploration of this dichotomy as Yukie Shiroma directs the dance-theater group Monkey Waterfall in "Shrines to Paradise."
This is multimedia entertainment/social commentary in a manner that's difficult to describe. You'll pretty much have to experience it to understand it.
"We're looking at the contrast between how we are marketed to the world and how we really are," Shiroma said.
"We talk about our sexy hula girl on the beach with the coconut bra," she added, but that sales pitch doesn't include military bases, ethnic communities, native Hawaiian concerns ... "We have a rich culture here, but when tourists come here, they're surprised because what they see is not what they saw in the brochures."
Think of the event as a carnival, with a barbershop quartet singing hapa-haole songs over here, a hula halau dancing "a very Waikiki piece" over there, a reading from a missionary's diary on one stage, a monologue from a shipmate of Capt. Cook on another.
The action will take part on a main stage, four side stages, the second floor, staircase and front lobby. Signs inspired by sideshow circus banners will hang throughout.
"A lot of what we're doing is taking traditional and contemporary icons of our state," Shiroma said. "For example, we have a banner that has 'birds of paradise,' and it has tourist helicopters and military aircraft and 747s. The things you see in our skies in Honolulu are birds of paradise, right?"
Mixing it up even more, the halau will disrupt the proceedings with a procession, performing a chant in ancient dress -- "This is the tradition that we shouldn't forget; this is the grounding that connects us," Shiroma said -- and every 15 minutes a Japanese wedding party will descend from the upper landing.
Shiroma directed the first "Shrines to Paradise" on the lawn of the Hawaii State Library in 1994, following up with "Club Monkey," another commentary on the impact of tourism, in 2005 at the South Seas Hawaiian Hut.
Her intent, she says, is not to be negative or to condemn, merely to present food for thought and have a little fun. "I'm not pointing fingers at anyone or moralizing anything. I'm just saying these are things we have to think about."