Ever since The Fringe got its edgy, alternative, off-Broadway groove on half a century ago in Edinburgh, Fringe theater festivals have been popping up all over the world. Hawaii’s third year with the fest will span four days, with 14 acts (including a couple out-of-towners) that generally put on only a single performance. Jump on anything that sounds interesting, or you’ll miss out. This year, styles include theatre, music, improv, puppetry, multimedia work and dance in forms from aerial, Tahitian and bellydance, to improvisational dance and hula.
PlayBuilder’s “Houseless in Paradise” performers confront homelessness in Hawaii at The Fringe: (front) Kamuela Ahquin, (middle) Trissa Walter, Venus Ahquin, Kahana Ho, Robert Yokoyama, (back) J. Kamamo Bailon, Norma Combs, November Morris, Andrea Valencia and Jeffery Terry Sousa. Nov. 7-8, 7:30 p.m. Photo by Robyn Ocepek/Celebrations Event Photography
“The good thing about a Fringe is that it has an open-access policy,” says Oahu Fringe Festival organizer Misa Tupou. “You’ll get a variety of acts, and because we don’t select or critique the artists’ works that makes it more daring to accept all. Fringe welcomes adventurous audiences because these acts give their all to create something that they would love to share.”
Being adventurous is key, what with the contemporary and experimental themes that present themselves, from off-color subjects to possible nudity. New this year is a family day Nov. 10, with fare geared toward all ages, particularly Long Long Ago at The ARTS at Marks Garage.
“There are so many talented people here in Hawaii, which inspired the idea of creating the Fringe,” notes Tupou. “To create this platform for them to shine is important – supporting their work enriches all of us.”
A 30-minute take-down and setup period takes place between performances, during which folks can either wait for the next show or head to the Fringe Central box office at Marks Garage.
“You can get info here about the Fringe, mingle with the artists, talk with other audience members, share your thoughts about the shows and encourage each other to go see your standout show,” says Tupou. “You may end up choosing to go to an act that you hadn’t thought of checking out, and you may meet some artists doing some interesting things. Be daring – go and see as many shows as you can!”
One way to choose your selection is to visit the opening party Nov. 7 for a taste of Fringe Bites, where acts are given five minutes each “to amaze you and show you how wonderful their show is,” says Tupou. The Bites showcase happens Nov. 7 at 9 p.m. at NextDoor.
the TICKET stub
When: A series of shows happen from 6 to 10:30 p.m., Nov. 7-10
Where: Various Chinatown venues
Cost: $10 per show
More Info: 721-6942, oahufringe.com
With polls by media sources such as AP and CBS finding that anywhere from a third to half of all Americans believe in ghosts, Oahu Ghost Tours (oahughosttours.com) has no problem keeping up its six-day-a-week schedule of tours to spooky haunts around town. For the daring, the company has added an 11 p.m. tour Oct. 30, which lasts into Halloween morning.
On a recent night, I joined 14 thrill seekers for one of “Uncle Joe” Espinda Jr.’s late-night jaunts to Pali Lookout, Morgan’s Corner and an ancient heiau known for its human sacrifices, to name a few of the spots. Uncle Joe, an animated conduit of the supernatural, guides the ghost hunters, most equipped with apps that spot unusual energy spikes in the area, representing the presence of the supernatural. Pointing our cameras into the blackness, we snap away, hoping to capture the energy masses on camera in the form of orbs, or small circles of light. They are invisible to the naked eye, but spirits being un-tech-savvy, they manifest on film.
“Sometimes you’ll see someone’s relative who recently passed away in the picture,” advises Uncle, who’s been doing this for seven years. The Pali at night might be the spookiest place on the island once you hear from Uncle Joe about legendary Night Marchers, ancient assassins of the king and queen. At each quiet, forested stopping point, the gang searches the darkness with wide eyes, while listening to our guide calling out protective Hawaiian chants and then breaking into stories of atrocities and murders that have plagued various locales over the centuries.
“I’ve gone home bruised, scratched and beaten up,” he says, because the spooky spirits don’t appreciate being scared away. He’s also seen his share of paranormal disturbances, he tells his van-load – from folks being choked, shoved and lifted to actually being thrown through the air.
“You believe, you no believe, I not here to change your mind,” he says portentously. “But evil is very real.”
We zoom in on some of our digital camera-captured orbs and in them, we make out some wildly twisted faces. The major stuff only happens once in a blue moon, Uncle Joe reassures. The paranormal is fascinating, he says, and his goal is to introduce us in a peaceful way, not scare the living daylights out of us.
Was I scared? Only mildly, until my camera inexplicably quit working.