Star-Bulletin Features

Tuesday, March 9, 1999

Courtesy The Actors Group
Dorothy Stamp and Eric Nemoto are two of the
11 cast members of Nemoto's play.

TAG branches
out in ‘Trees’

By John Berger
Special to the Star-Bulletin


MIKE Mazzola doesn't want The Actors Group to become known for doing a single type of play. Last fall's production of Eric Nemoto's crime drama, "The Committee to Expose the Reverend Terry Jamestown," contained plenty of crude vocabulary, coarse humor, implied sex and gratuitous violence. When Nemoto brought in a new script -- one that eventually became "Trees" -- Mazzola embraced the concept but suggested a few changes in content.

"I asked him to take out all the profanity, develop the romance a little more, and put some comedic moments into it," Mazzola said earlier this week. He and Nemoto juggle several tasks within TAG. Mazzola was planning to be appear in "Trees" but a scheduling conflict left that the show without a director so Mazzola will be making his debut directing the TAG production. Playwright Nemoto, one of the villains in "The Committee..." last fall, is one of 11 people in the cast.

Nemoto made the script changes in less than a week. "Trees" opens tomorrow at the Yellow Brick Studio in Kakaako.

Nemoto was inspired by a news report on Julia "Butterfly" Miller, a California woman who has spent more than 14 months living on a platform in a redwood tree as a protest of deforestation and the destruction of America's remaining old-growth forests. Miller has said she may starve herself to death. Nemoto's character threatens to kill herself by jumping.

Nemoto was interested in why someone would be willing to die to save trees.

"It has to do with several issues," Mazzola says of the character. He adds that while "Trees" was inspired by a real event, the life and times of the characters in the show are products of Nemoto's imagination.

The departure from "The Committee..." extends to the set. Last time the set and costumes were functional to the point of tackiness, although some of the apparent lack of continuity actually tied in to the outcome of the story. Mazzola is doing something different this time, and although "Trees" takes place in a forest no trees were killed to build the set.

"We went out to the recycling of the Christmas trees and got 37 Noble fir trees because a horticulturalist told me that wouldn't lose their needles for up to a year. We sprayed them with fire-retardant and then with green food coloring so we have a set with real trees with the pine smell," Mazzola says.


On stage

Bullet What: "Trees," presented by The Actors Group
Bullet When: 8 p.m. Friday, 6 and 8:15 p.m. Saturday and 2 and 4:15 p.m. Sunday, through March 21
Bullet Where: Yellow Brick Studio, 625 Keawe St.
Bullet Tickets: $10 Friday and Saturday, $6 on Sunday
Bullet Call: 591-7999

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