Pubdate: Wed, 12 May 2010
Source: Honolulu Advertiser (HI)
Copyright: 2010 The Honolulu Advertiser
Author: Anne E. O'Malley
Bookmark: (Methamphetamine)
Bookmark: (Drug Education)


"We don't know the ending," says director Ed Eaton of the performance 
montage he's directing with the Pono Players. The title of the piece 
is "Ripples: My Best Friend is Smoking Ice," an educational theater play.

The variable ending of this play is as limitless as responses from 
the audiences, Eaton says. It's a collaboration among the actors, 
director, program coordinator, and partner agencies.

Using an ice hotline as an opening device, actors pipe out rapid-fire 
facts about the drug. Pono players - eight actors ranging in age from 
15 to 22 - arrive on stage and freeze. Derrick, the best friend of 
Chad, who is the captain of the school's football team, asks the 
audience what they'd do if they saw a friend about to jump off a cliff.

It becomes obvious that Chad is the friend; ice is the cliff. Add 
this to the mix - Chad's girlfriend's mother is addicted to ice. As 
the drama unfolds, viewers see the power of friendship in seeking intervention.

Traditionally, there's an invisible wall between actors and the 
audience and neither broach it, but educational theater differs from the norm.

"We're working very hard to have the Pono Players break the fourth 
wall, have them come out, make contact," Eaton says. "We want to 
break it to say you're part of the story, because without you, 
there's really no need for us to be doing this."

It's a powerful art form, says Eaton, whose primary purpose is to 
begin dialogue. "We reach that dialogue through having a powerful 
message that's hopefully entertaining and gets people thinking," he said.

The concept of educational theater is not new. More recently, in the 
last two decades, Kaiser Permanente began offering educational 
theater in schools and organizations on topics concerning health and 
wellness in select areas around the country; and for 15 years, Eaton 
was involved with that company, the last six of them as artistic 
director in the Middle Atlantic States.

And the Pono Players are not new here. About a year ago, they 
premiered a play on the topic of HIV-AIDS that they brought into the 
schools and performed for adults as well.

What's new is the topic - ice. With the support of school 
administrators, parents, teachers and the Mokihana Project, the 
program is getting school delivery. (The Mokihana Project is a 
school-based behavioral help program that's a joint collaboration 
between the Department of Health and the Department of Education and 
provides mental health services for children and families.)

Steve Whitney, president of Hawaii Children's Theatre, said the story 
is based on real lives.

"We worked with The Hawai'i Meth Project to determine the content. 
Elements of some the characters are based on real stories," he said. 
"The director determined an outline for the story and worked with the 
actors using improvisation, role playing, and team building exercises 
to build the story."

"Ripples" will be performed on two Mondays, May 17 and 24, at 7 p.m. 
in the Puhi Warehouse Theater. The public is invited to view and 
interact. Admission is free. Space is limited. Reserve via email at  or call Whitney, 651-3509.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom