Island School drama troupe to perform at first-ever O‘ahu fringe festival

Time is fleeting, and how we spend it is the most important decision we make. Eight spirited high school actors and musicians from Island School perform “It’s About Time,” three short comedies by David Ives with musical interludes: “Captive Audience,” “ Arabian Nights” and “Variations on the Death of Trotsky,” at the Island School Theatre, 7 p.m. Nov. 4 and 5.

Lauded by critics as a “magical and funny master of language” and “perhaps the funniest writer of short plays in America today,” Ives has a wit and capacity with language that dazzles as it disorients, putting “the play back in playwright.” He is probably best known for his evenings of one-act comedies called “All In The Timing” and “Time Flies.” “All In The Timing” won the Outer Critics Circle Playwriting Award, ran for two years Off-Broadway, and in the 1995–96 season was the most performed play in the country after Shakespeare productions. His full-length plays include his adaptation of Mark Twain’s “Is He Dead?,” which was Island School’s 2008 fall high school production. A graduate of Yale School of Drama and a former Guggenheim Fellow in playwriting, Ives lives in New York City.

In the Island School production, two plays from “Time Flies” and one from “All in the Timing” are strung together with original musical arrangements performed by student musicians on cello, bassoon and violin. The first play, “Captive Audience,” is a cautionary fable that tells how Rob and Laura face a menace in their living room: a television that talks back to them and threatens to swallow them whole. In “Arabian Nights,” utterly normal Norman walks into utterly ordinary Flora’s shop looking for a souvenir of his travels and together they find whirlwind romance, inspired by a wacky translator. “Variations on the Death of Trotsky” takes a comic look at the assassination of the famous Russian revolutionary, killed by his Mexican gardener, who smashed a mountain climber’s axe into his skull. The play opens the day after the attack, with Trotsky busily writing and with the axe sticking out of his head. The play consists of quick scenes, each with a different perspective on Trotsky’s death.

The Drama Troupe comprises freshmen Kyle Riddle and Jacob Dysinger, sophomores Quinn Hannah-White and Christy Jo Williams, juniors Griffin Lord and Kim McDonough and seniors, Jasmine Libert and Teddy Rose. Kaua‘i performances are at Island School on Friday and Saturday, Nov. 4 and 5 at 7 p.m. Tickets are $7 in advance, $10 at the door and may be purchased by calling 246-0233, ext. 262, from cast members or at the school’s office.

The following weekend, the troupe will travel to O‘ahu’s first-ever Fringe Festival, a cut-loose performing arts festival, which will take place at various venues in Chinatown. “It’s About Time” is scheduled at The Arts at Mark’s Garage on November 11 and 12. Tickets may be purchased for $7 online at www.brownpapertickets.com/event/206302 (a booking fee will apply). Visit the “It’s About Time” event on Facebook for more information. Island School is the only participating high school in this event.

Director Peggy Ellenburg is a founder of Island School and has been teaching there for 34 years. She has led five student theater tours to the United Kingdom and Europe, including to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland. Ellenburg said that the opportunity to expose her students to the excitement of “uncategorized fringe mayhem” the organizers promise at this 3-day event was too good to pass up. “This is a kind of theater that is rarely seen in Hawai‘i, but that is popular worldwide. It’s going to be a great adventure for all of us.”

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