Kumu Kahuas Flipzoids
focuses on search
By Cynthia Oi
When Naoko Maeshiba recalls her childhood in Kobe, Japan, it is often an experience of the senses, particularly the sense of smell.
"When I think of home, I'm surrounded by these smells and each is connected with a specific memory," Maeshiba said.
This experience, she says, helps her as she directs Kumu Kahua Theatre's production of "Flipzoids," which opens today.
Written by Ralph B. Pena, a playwright from the Philippines, "Flipzoids" focuses on three Filipino-American immigrants searching for identity and connections as Asians in a Western world. They are a young man who blurs his ethnicity by bleaching his hair and a woman who struggles to transform herself as she seeks the American dream.
The third character is an elderly woman who won't adapt and longs for her former life in Ilocos Norte, despite its poverty. She, like Maeshiba, remembers her home through the smells of the kitchens and the mango trees.
The theme of Asians struggling to blend their heritage and their American-ness isn't virgin ground in plays, but the theme, Maeshiba said, is universal: a search for identity and human connections.
The staging of "Flipzoids" will be sensorial -- not with smells -- but with visual and aural components, she said.
"Instead of watching the play like you read a book, it will have environmental elements to make it different."
Maeshiba came to Hawaii in 1989 to study Japanese linguistics at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, but started to dance, changed her major and received her master's of fine arts in in theater last year. She is not only a director, but a performance artist, dancer and choreographer.
"Flipzoids" will involve old and young a "connective" theater experience, she said.
"It has all of the life elements: joy, grief and surprise."
FlipzoidsOn stage: Today through April 3
Performances: 8 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays
Place: Kumu Kahua Theatre, 46 Merchant St.
Tickets: $15 general admission, $12 seniors, $10 students, Fridays through Sundays; $12 general, $10 seniors, $5 students, Thursday
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