Archive for November, 2012

KAUA’I: Eth-Noh-Tec & The Garden Island

Kaua’i is such a beautiful island. If Hawaii’s islands were compared to the San Juan islands, Kaua’i would be Orcas. A jewel.

We arrived there from Oahu and were greeted by the caressing trade winds that had stopped for a few days on Oahu. The majestic green mountains, rising out of the land with their angles, the multitude of big leafed trees with flowers, the blue sky and the fragrance emanating from the wildness of it all, captured us in every way.

The first stop was the beach! The 2nd stop our friends Ray and Diane Nitta. Immediately we were given fresh squeezed orange juice from their tree and a conversation on their lovely deck overlooking a stream. We marveled at their deck. The decking was not even stained for protection, yet the wood had no fading or splinters. It was well over 10 years old! He told us it was Ipe wood so hard and tight, that a nail could not be driven through it! Paradise is just too much!

But on to other subjects!

That first day we visited Ray’s enormous wood shop where he has of late taken up lathing. He makes gorgeous wooden bowls, one of which he gave to us. Of course he has made many other things such as his entire house and the furniture inside, the cabinets, the wooden carvings, the artwork. Needless to say, this is one talented man. Diane is a potter and full of talent as well.

We finally settled in for a pasta dinner made by their friend Linda who plays taiko with Ray.

The next day, after sleeping on the most comfortable bed of the 3 weeks traveling around Hawaii, Ray took us to the lovely green tree’ed hilly Lawai International Center of 30 acres nestled in a sacred valley. There, a very dedicated group of Japanese workers in the 1930s had fashioned a small temple (destroyed by a hurricane a few years ago) and 88 Shingon shrines and several jizos (small carved figures of Bodhisattvas) lining the paths of a hillside. Flash forward to 2002. This area was always known as a healing sanctuary, and now, a small group of dedicated Kaua’ianas have been restoring the shrines and jizos, carving new jizos, and raising enough money to replace the temple.

The visionary plans for this International Center are for it to be a healing and cultural center for all the pilgrims of the world. When we were there, tents were set up to house the newly arrived pieces of the new temple. The day we were to leave, craftsmen from Taiwan, Japan and Korea were arriving to build the temple onto the foundation the group put in. Very exciting!! How they were all going to communicate is a story we have not yet heard! For us then and there, as we sat, the peaceful aura was soothing despite it not being far from a busy road. Being surrounded by green grass, green trees, green hill in a valley bowl had a calming power on our senses. We hope to return to perform for the next pilgrimage!!

We then were taken to the Salt Pond beach. It is called the Salt Pond, because Hawaiians have used this place for centuries to get their salt. They dig small wells on the land about 500 yards from the beach. The shallow pans fill with the seawater. The sun dries the water. What’s left is the sea salt. And because the soil in Kaua’i (and other islands) are reddish, the salt is a pink color. Ray gave us a huge huge bag of the pink sea salt! Lucky us!

Next we were off to a new treatment that Ray told us about: it’s called Scalar Energy Treatment. Computers are set to give off this energy, how, I can’t begin to describe. The several computers are set across from each other. The room is then filled with this Scalar Energy that is said to be healing. Visions come. A restfulness is gifted. It’s too scientific for us to explain it, so you can look it up as Scalar Field Theory. Anyway, we had visions during the two-hour rest in the room. And then, totally rested, off we went to our first gig on Kaua’i.

This place is very interesting. It seems new. It is very manicured. It is full of haoles, either part-timers, tourists or retirees, and can be compared a bit to Santa Barbara. Shocking prices, you can imagine!

Still, just down in the steep valley floor below, there is a preserve with acres of taro fields, providing a sanctuary for Hawaii’s endangered birds. Thank goodness!

After checking into a lovely resort, we then set up for our performance of spooky tales Halloween night at a Club for those families that have bought an acre and built a house in this 1000-acre ‘hope-to-be-community’. Very posh. Very Santa Barbara. And very interesting.

We performed in the dark outdoors about 6 feet in front of a fire pit and on a stage that had lights that shone up into our faces. We couldn’t even see the edges of the stage. After moving 2 lights to accommodate viewing the edge so that we would not fall into the area where children were suppose to sit. When no one from the Club would leave their dinner plates, and the time of starting had passed 15 minutes ago, Robert went into the Club to round up an audience. A half-hour late, we had a semblance of an audience and began.

Performing outdoors is a very different experience from that inside a tent or inside a theater space, even a library. The energy disburses up into the atmosphere instead of accumulating between the audience and performers. In this situation it was even more difficult as we could not see our audience behind the fire pit and it seemed they didn’t know how to clap. Fortunately, the tech person was wonderful, and the 8 boys who lined up right at the edge of the stage with hands over their ears were a delight to watch as they were totally drawn into the stories.

The next day, we performed in the Princeville Library – a building that looked like their City Hall, their Police Department, and heavens – they even had some preschools in these pinkish beige brick, very stiff and square buildings. But! The library welcomed in the 2nd and 3rd graders of the Kanuikapono Charter School from a nearby town. This school is dedicated to the arts and to teaching Hawaiian history, culture, language, dance, music and the arts as part of their curriculum. With time to spare, the children stood and performed 2 Hawaiian chants for us, a gestured song – all in Hawaiian – and placed leaf leis around our necks.

When adults streamed in and other families, too, we were all ready for our stories. Magic was already in the air, so we merely added to it! As Kanuikapono’s website states:

“Plan for a year- plant Kalo
Plan for ten years- plant Koa
Plan for ONE Hundred Years- TEACH THE CHILDREN”

We were thoroughly impressed by the children, the school and it’s vision and most of all the heart of Mauli Cook! Mahalo, Mauli for the love your express for Kanuikapono School.

And then we had the day to spare. The Cave beaches!!! (Yes, across the road from the beaches are several caves under the mountains). And then one of the teachers of the charter school – Mauli – showed us an old Japanese cemetery, their charter school, and her sweet little cottage with a delicious dinner from Hawaiian foods out of her garden! Taro, kale, onions and … not out of her garden, some vegi-burgers! Yum.

We flew back that night to Oahu, wishing we could have more days on beautiful Kaua’i. Another Aloha…

Filed as: At the Moment  

Talkin’ Story ‘Round the Islands!


Jeff Gere, local Honolulu storyteller organizer and performer has been producing this festival for over 25 years and has included not only visiting nationally known tellers but also an emphasis on the diverse styles and cultures represented by Hawaii’s home-grown telling talent. This delightful festival, made free to the public (best price of all!) featured tellers throughout the weekend with a wide range of styles, some poetic, others historic, many dramatic and while others choreographic.

Friday night olio’s (Oct 19 ) was dedicated to Spooky Tales. The community loves to come out for this to hear “chicken-skin” tales (hair rising, goosebumps). Eth-Noh-Tec presented our scariest tales: the Kapre (Philippines): tale of a shapeshifter; The Dirtball: tale of a16th Century heart gobbling demon; and New Ghost (China) story of a lone travler outwitting a ghost.

James McCarthy who blended vocals, guitar and storytelling presented a ghost story from chapter in the Civil War.

Another real treat was delivered by Kathy “Tita” Collins who retold the famous Obake ghost story (Japanese) in local pidgin English. Her alter ego (“Tita”) was rauchous and bold!

We delighted in the artistry of deaf teller Ed Chevy. The clarity of his American sign language deliverance, his dramatic and intense facial expressions all sharpened the macabre tale of Edgar Allen Poes stories. Ed’s storytelling was calligraphy of the human body in motion.

Jeff Gere, founder of the festival donned his artistic cloak (a cloak of darkness I might add!) as he offered one of our favorites, the classic Japanese “Obake” ghost story, “Yuki Onna” (Snow Woman). By combining an eerie effect using angled and severe lighting, and a unique rotating silouhette-projection box, Jeff revealed changing faces that revealed the faces of a “lovely wife” to the countenance of a “breath sucking ghost” (“da’ kids go scream kine! “You a scary guy, Jeff!)”

The Saturday night concert (Oct 20) lightened up aire as it was devoted to stories for family listening and some of our favorite tales. Nancy told a Chinese story “Dragon Wings” a story of a do-good dragon gaining his wings, and a young lad keeping his promises and thus was justly rewarded (he got the girl, the bountiful farm, and his mother’s eyesight regained!)… “Happily ever after”, Chinese style!

Kilohana Silve offered a tale from the pantheon of Hawaiian goddesses including a performance of dance-theater storytelling inherent with Kahiko style hula performed by her student, Amy Daysog.

Other featured tellers included Daniel Kelin, Yasu Ishida, (Oahu), Pat Masumoto (Maui), and Pete Griffin (Juneau, AK).

If you are EVER planning an October trip to the islands (specifically Honolulu) be sure to google this event. It’s a must-see-and-hear event! Here are some pix of our favorite tellers from the Talk Story Festival 2012.

Following our appearance at Talk Story Festival, began our interisland tour to the outerislands starting with a plane to Lanai. Thanks to organizing of Tim Slaughter of the University of Hawaii and numerous island libraries and schools, Eth-Noh-Tec has been able to bring their performances to remote communities in the archeipelago. How different all the islands are in their feeling, the bioscape, the local flavor of the communities.

To get a sense of the make-shift theater we performed in, here’s the pre-show chair set up in this cavernous resort lobby of the Koele Lodge. It was so interesting to see the uppercaste tourists checking in with their golf clubs as local Hawaiian families sat waiting for the show to begin. Producer, Greg Cohen, local Lanai writer, musician and webdesigner was our host and did a fabulous job making sure our mics were set, our lodging was great (and it was GREAT!) and our performance requirements met! Take a look at the great photos (above) he took of the crowd as well. Mahalo to Greg and the many hats of talent he wears (what can’t that man do?)!

The Koele Lodge is a located on acres of gorgeous, landscaped, prime real estate overlooking what used to be vast expanses of land once tilled by the multi-national sugar industry. How ironic to see current day beauty adorning the lands of what was once an independent sovereign nation before the take-over by US corporate interests. All of this, a society changed drastically within 114 years! Now here we are, storytellers performing for the descendants of both colonizers and the colonized. Life is strange.

Immediately following the show we headed off by shuttle to the ferry landing to take us to our next stop: Maui. They told us to keep an eye out for dophins. They told us to enjoy the interisland views upon the aqua-marine colored waves. What did we do? The pulsing of the ferry’s engine, the bouncing of the waves, and the busy schedule sent us off in the slumberland, only to be woken by the voice in the ships speakers “Welcome to Maui!”.

Our performance at the MACC (Maui Arts and Cultural Center) involved 2 shows before over a thousand pre-schoolers and first graders! YIKES! Actually they were divided between 2 shows- but even still 600 children at that age is still short of a miracle. We chose stories that were visual, lots of physical movement, and plenty of call-and-response musical ideas. Below is the picture of the theater BEFORE the throngs of little keiki’s come strolling in. Now THAT’S a big room!

Later that day we presented in a much smaller venue, the library at Makawao, a darling rural town up on higher ground overlooking a sugar cane field. Afterwards we got to have dinner with new found storytelling friends Pat Matsumoto and Kathy Collins.

Pat Masumoto is a 72 year old slam poetry and visual artist on Maui! That’s right: 72 years! Watch out young bloods this lady is a kick! Surely when she steps on the stages of the poetry slam events in Hawaii all eyes, ears and jaws open! One of her signature performance pieces is the “Mother Monologues” a series of anecdotes, stories, and personal experiences both her own and curated through the internet from hundreds of entries from around the world.

Kathy “Tita” Collins is another whirlwind performer involved deeply in the Maui performing arts scene including theater, voice work and formerly as a radio host on a local show where she first introduced “Tita”, the sassy pidgin speaking, block-busting, local girl with serious island attitude.

Filed as: At the Moment