Star-Bulletin Features

Thursday, March 4, 1999

Kumu Kahua by Brad Goda
"My mother's driving me nuts!" Vangie (Liberty Chavez), left,
fantasizes about choking her mom, Aying (Nan Asuncion),
in Kumu Kahua's

Kumu Kahua’s ‘Flipzoids’
focuses on search
for identity


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.

Do It Electric 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."



bullet On stage: Today through April 3
bullet Performances: 8 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays
bullet Place: Kumu Kahua Theatre, 46 Merchant St.
bullet Tickets: $15 general admission, $12 seniors, $10 students, Fridays through Sundays; $12 general, $10 seniors, $5 students, Thursday
bullet Call: 536-4441

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