Women, Wardrobe…Identity

Talk about a satisfying girls night out. I recently had the good fortune to sit in on a rehearsal of Love, Loss and What I Wore. It’s not just the humorous script about recollections on clothing collected from real women (like, famously, Rosie O’Donnell), and the impact those clothes have had on their lives. What made the experience so much fun is this particular group of five ladies, all Po’okela caliber, who inhabit the stories and breathe character into them. Victoria Gail-White is Gingy, who divulges bits about her mother and the string of men in her own life through monologues involving her wardrobe. Lisa Barnes, Therese Olival, Lauren Murata and Bree Peters interweave snippets of girl gossip about shoes, purses, their Madonna phase and the glories of black clothing, touching on some poignant memories as well.


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Lisa Barnes, Therese Olival, Victoria Gail-White, Lauren Murata and Bree Peters. Photo courtesy Manoa Valley Theatre

Some of the stories are beyond my years, but I enjoyed the glimpse back in time. Then there’s the sudden strum that strikes a nostalgic chord, and I’m amused that someone else shares a piece of my own history, like my middle school teacher who used to tell the class to always wear clean underwear in case we end up in the hospital. Or perhaps everygirl’s younger years at the other end of her mother’s obsession that she stand up straight and not let her bra strap show.

“You might think it’s a chick thing, but the first time we did the show at Manoa Valley Theatre in 2012, we had men who came with their wives or girlfriends,” notes Gail-White. “They came up to us after and said, ‘Thank you so much for doing this. I learned so much about women from watching this piece. I had no idea what women go through, whether it’s about their period or their wedding dresses or bras.’ It’s illuminating.”

David Farmer directs, almost like a music conductor – he’s listening, not watching. “Faster,” he urges. “Jump on each other’s lines at this point. Build, build, top each other’s lines. … Now stop, really emphasize this part.”

In the script, background details on accents or age are not provided for most of the characters, so the actors cull from their own expressive creativity. The ladies sit on stools as they disclose their intimate thoughts to you, the audience.

“Last time we did this, people rushed us when they came out of the theater,” says Gail-White. “They had these stories about articles of clothing and how they connected to it emotionally.”

I admit I went home thinking about my cooler-than-cool, gray ’80s windbreaker with its zip-away hood, and my first pair of high-top Reeboks. It felt good to reminisce about my closet over the decades, about my life – even that embarrassing pair of corduroy pants I’d never noticed were too short until I was wearing them the first time a boy held my hand. I looked down and could see my ankles.

What dormant memories are hiding in your wardrobe?

the TICKET stub

When: March 17 and 18
Where: Manoa Valley Theatre
Cost: $18
More Info: 988-6131, manoavalleytheatre.com

A Tale of a Whale, Or Two

One of those ultra-calm Hawaii winter days, all still and gray after nonstop rain, found a whale-watching cruise (starofhonolulu.com) plying the waters off Honolulu Harbor. “Oh, wow, it’s going to be majestic. Those whales are just going to jump out in that still ocean, and you’re going to be able to see them so clearly,” said a veteran whale-watcher friend. She was wrong. The whales seemed to be enjoying the peace more underwater than above, but every glimpse was nonetheless dramatic. A sliver of slate-gray would momentarily break the surface of the water to the electric buzz of myriad camera shutters shuttering. Then a tail would rise, but just as quickly submerge. The boat maneuvered to keep an eye on the mammoth mammal, until a sight surprised us all: A wee, little tail peeked up from the ocean. We’d been watching a mama with a baby all along.