KPAC plays shine in theater festival

LIHU‘E — A time-traveling detective’s transporter device malfunctions, teleporting him not to his desired destination of Brooklyn, N.Y., but instead to ancient Greece.

Once there, he loses his device, and finds that ancient Greeks Archimedes, Hippocrates and Zoe have become obsessed with it.

But this device they’ve become obsessed with isn’t the type of shiny, time-traveling machine made famous by science- fiction author H.G. Wells.

This device is a simple bath loofah, turned into the center of attention by Kapa‘a High School senior and Kauai Performing Arts Center (KPAC) student Kaician Kitko.

“I just wanted some strange thing to be the important focus (of the play),” Kitko said.

His play, “Loofa Time,” is one of two original plays featured in this weekend’s Second Annual KPAC Theatre Festival at the Kaua‘i War Memorial Convention Hall in Lihu‘e.

In this festival, students of KPAC were given the opportunity and responsibility to showcase their talents for all of Kaua‘i to see.

Kitko’s play was one of two plays selected from the KPAC’s playwriting class. The other selected was “Duplicity” by Kaua‘i High School and KPAC student Gabriel McMullen.

Kitko said he had always been interested in creative writing, but this was his first attempt at playrighting.

“I wrote this play in two days, but I went through three drafts before I was really happy with it,” Kitko said. “I just wrote a story and wrote dialogue around it. I never really like anything I write. I always think, ‘I should’ve changed this, I should’ve changed that.’” For his body of work, he trusted his words to fellow KPAC and Kapa‘a student Gabrielle Davidson. Davidson had been with KPAC since her middle-school years, but has spent most of her experience as an actor. Directing Kitko’s “Loofa” was her venture into trying something different.

“I wanted to get a different perspective (on theater) since I’ve always been an actor,” she said. “It was definitely challenging, because a director needs to be a leader. It was really hard, but at the same time very rewarding.” Davidson said the directing class she took through KPAC prepared her for the challenge of taking charge of the play, and leading her peers in the production.

“I was a little nervous, but in a good way,” she said. “We talked about it in C1class, and it was very much, ‘It has to be this way. You have to be the director.’” Directing “Loofa” was her first choice when it came to picking projects.

“I wanted a really-light play. I just wanted to have fun with it. It was really funny on paper, and sometimes (staging it) is hard to do,” Davidson said. “(Kitko) basically let me do whatever I wanted. He did have some input, but I pretty much pulled all the reins.” Kitko gave Davidson creative control with “Loofa,” who didn’t see her staging of it until earlier this week.

“I’m pretty happy with it,” he said. “It’s fun to see how the directors put things on stage, and how they do things, and what they change.” Kitko himself got to experience that. He directed the other original play featured in the festival, “Duplicity,” by McMullen.

“Duplicity,” Kitko said, is about a man who arrives at a dilapidated warehouse to make plans with a shady real estate broker. Things seem fishy and the mystery begins.

“It’s actually not as dark as it sounds,” said Kitko.

Although he enjoyed both experiences, Kitko said he wanted to study creative writing when he goes to college.

McMullen like Kitko pulled double duty, having written a play and directed one. For his scene for the festival, McMullen directed a scene from Beth Henley’s play about a southern family, “Crimes of the Heart.” Other scenes to be performed at the festival are a scene from William Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet,” directed by KPAC students Laura Manning and Juno Apalla; and a scene from Neil Simon’s “California Suite,” directed by KPAC students Nichole Thompson and Maureen Leahy.

The students started preparing for this festival last month. Kitko’s and McMullen’s plays were written as a part of this past fall’s playwriting class taught by Gabriel Obermann.

The seven directors for the festival’s scenes were from the directing class taught by Arnold Meister.

There will be two performances of the festival. It opens tonight at the convention hall, and closes tomorrow. Showtimes for both nights are 7 p.m. Tickets are $6 for adults and $4 for students.

Lanaly Cabalo, lifestyle writer, may be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 237) or lcabalo@kauaipubco.com.

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