Seven Eastern students, accompanied by Assistant Professor of Theatre J.J. Cobb, traveled to Oahu, HI, from Jan. 1-13, to perform a series of theatrical pieces ranging from scenes to monologues to readings. The trip was the culmination of the Site-Specific Theatre course the group had taken during the fall semester, when they wrote their performances and learned about the history and culture of Hawaii.
Site-Specific Theatre is a creative approach that illuminates how a location can influence events; theatrical stories are constructed about a particular place, and are then performed onsite. Students participating in the course included Ashley Lovett, Chad Dominique, Paul Lietz, Melissa Conkling, Robert Morgan, Michael Pina and Darcy Bruce.
"During this experience, theatre is being used as a new way of 'encountering' a place," said Cobb. "In the past, the Theatre Program has offered tours for students to go to a location to study and view shows, but this is the first opportunity for students to generate and perform theatrical pieces of their own during travel."
When performing, the students literally "popped up" in various places around Oahu and acted out their pieces. "It was tough to battle the noise of our surroundings, including passing traffic and people," said Lietz, a senior majoring in theatre, "but it was a good obstacle for me to try to find different ways to grab people's attention, since they couldn't always hear me."
The Eastern students visited such sites as the Polynesian Cultural Center, Hanauma Bay, Pearl Harbor and the North Shore, which helped them become familiar with the history of the island. They also experienced cultural activities such as fire-dancing and paddle boarding. Students also worked with local actors who helped them with the historical accuracy of their scripts and the pronunciation of Hawaiian words. "Getting to see their technique and how they perform and vocalize in their native tongue was probably one of the biggest things I could have gotten out of working with them," said Dominique, a junior majoring in theatre. "It made me realize that theatre is and always will be a universal art form."