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Free Video Docu-series In The Works To Get Audiences Ready for EDDIE.

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New video series shares backstage view of 2022 production.

The UHM Department of Theatre + Dance and Kennedy Theatre have announced the creation of a free educational mini-video documentary series detailing the preparations for their January 2022 live stage production of Eddie `Wen Go: the Story of the Upside-down Canoe.

The cast, crew, and artistic team for the show are crafting topical videos about the show and the story of Eddie Aikau to prepare, educate, and inspire keiki, classrooms, and families. According to show Director Mark Branner, "This video series is a way to share information about Eddie Aikau, his legacy, the show, and the overall story itself so that when audience members come into the theatre in January of 2022 they are eager, excited, and ready to see this enduring tale." This series is set to be released throughout the 2020-2021 school year and most episodes will be roughly seven minutes in length. Video links will be posted on the show webpage: manoa.hawaii.edu/liveonstage/eddie.

Auditions for the production were held over the summer. Branner recalls, "we had a cast for the show that we loved and because I couldn't imagine rapidly pivoting to something online as a show for young audiences; we decided instead to do a series of short videos that would enhance, enliven, encourage, inspire, and promote the actual live event." Originally the production of Eddie `Wen Go was scheduled to open this September but with public health and safety concerns growing, the staged production was pushed back to January 2022, with the hope that family and school audiences will be able to enjoy it performed live on stage in the theatre.

When asked about why this play was originally chosen Branner remarked, "Thinking back to the first time this show was produced in 2014, we witnessed the overwhelming desire from the local audience to hear a meaningful story about a local hero. We knew we were going to bring this show back someday. I believe this is a story that should always be told. Many people who grew up in Hawai`i have heard Eddie's story but the ending was always told as a tragedy. Marion Lyman-Mersereau, an original crew member of the Hōkūleʻa who survived, was often asked to go to schools and talk about Eddie and the events of 1978 but she wanted to be able to tell the story in a way that could be uplifting, encouraging, and inspiring to young audience members. She eventually wrote a children's book by the same title where the ocean creatures see the ongoing lasting effects of Eddie and his act of sacrifice. It is story of a local Hawaiian hero who is known for his humble, selfless, and sacrificial spirit."

Branner detailed more about the focus of the Getting Ready for Eddie video series by stating, "This video series is really more of an education packet or as I like to call them 'Active Audience Packets.' A recent study from the NEA (National Endowment of the Arts) documents the impact that these kind of pre-show and post-show activities have on the receptivity of audiences, especially young audiences, to a show. So the more that parents, teachers, and students engage with materials that are peripheral to the show - the greater the take-away and the more emotional impact it will have on the viewer. We want to keep the videos very active and engaging to introduce aspects of the story." With the assistance of current Master of Fine Arts candidates in Theatre for Young Audiences students Elizabeth Gannaway, Taylor Bogan, Audrey Castaneda-Walker, and playwright Marion Lyman-Mersereau have planned out roughly ten episodes to make up the Getting Ready For Eddie video series which will feature Eddie `Wen Go cast members. Topics range from a mock-rehearsal session with the cast via Zoom, learning about Eddie Aikau, behind the scenes access with show costuming, and how current MFA candidate in Design Laura Nigon-Holmgren has reimaged the giant puppets needed for the 2022 production. Branner continued, "another reason why we really felt that we had to move forward with this project now is because Laura is an amazing designer and she had such foresight into how we might recreate, recraft, and repurpose the whales from 2014 production to make them much more true to life in terms of animalistic movement. It's really exciting and she's done this fantastic job of repurposing all of the puppets to create a whole new aesthetic that's totally different from the original production." This video series will also include original music by world renowned local musician Tavana McMoore.

The Getting Ready For Eddie video series, according to Branner, "will contain short easily digestible videos for everybody. Hopefully they will inspire excitement about the live 2022 production which is what we're all hoping for - to bring the community back into the theatre to celebrate this inspirational story and the legacy of Eddie Aikau." Free video access and more information about the Getting Ready for Eddie video series is available online at http://manoa.hawaii.edu/liveonstage/eddie/.


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