Queen of Darkness DJ Nocturna, who brings us the annual Miss Vamp and Count Dracula pageants, is stirring up more gothic thrills. This time she presents Hawaii Horror Ball (Aug. 15 at Next Door, djnocturna.com) ― think “beautiful monster.”
Horror Ball, first produced in Portland by a friend of Nocturna’s, will feature a costume contest, fashion show and theatrical performances by Taurie Kinoshita’s Cruel Theatre Company.
“My vision of Hawaii Horror Ball is to accentuate beauty of the horrific, and I take the model of Bride of Frankenstein (1935), particularly the portrayal of Elsa Lanchester: pale, damaged but beautiful,” says Nocturna. “Sometimes the most damaged women are also the deepest, darkest and most profoundly beautiful, as pain and suffering are beautiful in a dark and uncanny sense.”
OK, some of you are reading that and going uhoh. For everyone else, particularly horror film and novel lovers, this ball is for you. If terms like medieval, ghastly castle, dungeon, secret vault and supernatural spirits give you good kine chicken skin, then get out your lace and skulls. This isn’t just shock schlock for Nocturna, who delves into the deepest chasms of psychoanalysis, based on the novel Powers of Horror, to explore society’s fascination with the dark side:
“Abjection is a state of disintegration of worthlessness,” she says. “It is the state of the newborn who is suddenly cast into the world, unsure of itself and its relationship to anything. Similar to Bride of Frankenstein, who was almost like a newborn after Victor Frankenstein created her. The horror film with its blood mutilation is so shocking and beautiful that it throws us in a state of abjection. In the process, we relive the state of abjection that the child experiences. By reliving it, we exorcise it. When you cast it out, you gain a sense of yourself. This is the reason so many people love horror flicks.”
Following that heady preturnatural paradigm, three designers will have models strutting a Horror Cat Walk. The designers include Hunter Vain (Count Dracula 2012) displaying “wall to wear” or wearable art; Cherie, whose fashion is inspired by a Victorian aesthetic and Lolita style; and Kreative Art Services, showcasing angels and demons. Additionally, death metal band Aphesis will perform.
“I hope his screams along with the band’s dark powerful sound will bring ‘abjection’ to the crowd. LOL,” says Nocturna, tongue in cheek.
Expect some horrific belly dancing and creepy tunes spun by Nocturna and fellow DJs.
Shakespeare in a Nutshell
Shakespeare will grace Hawaiian Mission Houses’ outdoor stage for a third year, this time in the form of three solid actors (Adam LeFebvre, Kevin Keaveney and Therese Olival) doing The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged). That’s the entire canon of 37 plays, plus the sonnets, in under two hours (Aug. 15-23, missionhouses.org).
“This is a parody along the lines of last year’s Twelf Nite. It is energetic and hilarious,” says Mission Houses executive director Thomas Woods, the force behind the historic site’s thriving theatrical productions throughout the year. Abridged retains Shakespeare’s comedic sense, but “Don’t expect the usual Shakespeare show,” warns Woods.
If Mission Houses and Shakespeare seem unlikely bedfellows, not true, says Woods. The premiere event, held at the newly established site in 1908, included a play set in 1840 as the program highlight, and more plays were to follow over the years.
“Theatrical performances are an enjoyable way of learning about the past, and they can communicate emotion and the impact of past events more effectively than lectures or other forms of interpretation. Theatre appeals to our heads and our hearts.”
In particular, says Woods, the missionaries’ hearts beat for Shakespeare:
“Some missionaries were said to walk around with the Bible under one arm and Shakespeare under the other.”
Whether performing Shakespeare outdoors, producing Cemetery Pupu Theatre or the Mission Houses’ music series, Woods says the goal of these annual events is to provide family entertainment and establish Hawaiian Mission Houses as a community gathering place.
Scandal in the Church
The Monk, an 18th-century novel by 19-year-old wunderkind Matthew Gregory Lewis, with its tropes of religious righteousness and scandal, piqued the catacombs of my mind like no other book. I mention that because similar themes are being presented in readings of a new play, The Parish, scripted by local resident Jan McGrath (Aug. 16-17, 722-6941, taghawaii.net). The setting is post-World War II, when a young priest must care for his friend’s widow and children. Of course, he grows attached. And of course, holier-than-thou parishioners start talking.
“The first act is based on an actual occurrence from my childhood. The second act is fiction … how I might have preferred it to play out,” notes McGrath. “It is a bittersweet love story, capturing a time and customs that imposed great challenges to people’s loyalties and security in their relationships, community and faith. A dominant theme is the destructive nature of rigid righteousness and the havoc it can wreak — no less a challenge today!”
Among the script’s 10 characters is elderly church member Mrs. Meehan, read aloud by former Honolulu fashion photographer Alma McGoldrick. The 86-year-old first attempted a theatrical role at age 16 in England, but was so nearsighted that she could scarcely navigate the stage. While she’s done some amateur play reading with her church, this staged reading will mark her first time back on the big stage in 70 years.
“As fellow church members, I’ve heard Alma channel every kind of character from a teenaged Cleopatra to Caesar himself, juggling any age, any dialect, with aplomb,” says McGrath.
In The Parish, she’ll be playing a moralistic and steadfast rectory housekeeper.