HONOLULU — A queer-centered superhero fantasy written by Windward Community College alumnus Noa Helela, debuts at Windward’s Paliku Theatre, Oct. 28-Nov. 6. Weaving action, magic and humor into a story about people manifesting ancient kupua (demigod) powers to transform into animals, “Demigods Anonymous” follows the journey of Noe Lahana, who struggles with shapeshifting into a giant lizard.
Lahana, girlfriend Marcella and their friends face the facilitator of their mandated Demigods Anonymous meetings, described as “condescending at best, evil at worst.”
“At 19, I learned that rehab isn’t a safe place to be a queer, mentally ill Hawaiian woman,” said Helela in a news release. “So, years later, I wrote ‘Demigods Anonymous.’”
The play was first performed at Kumu Kahua Theatre in 2018, but has since been updated and now features a different ending and approach. The cast includes Reece Flores as Noe, Sydney Ishikawa as Marcella and Marie Richter as the menacing counselor.
Helela, a Hawaiian-Asian-European multimedia artist working in filmmaking, playwriting, music and poetry, is also a Hawaii Conservatory of Performing Arts emerging island artist. Fantasy realism and dark humor are themes in most of Helela’s projects with intersectional themes that include mixed racial identity, diaspora, native issues, racism/racial violence, colonization, feminism, queer relationships, and trans identity.
Director Taurie Kinoshita describes Helela as “a brilliant writer and artist. Her empowering play is a metaphor for systemic oppression that BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, people of color) and Indigenous people often face. Western art is often binary, but ‘Demigods Anonymous’ defies simplistic categorization.”
Performance dates and times are Oct. 28-29, Nov. 3-5 at 7:30 p.m., and Oct. 30 and Nov. 6 at 4 p.m. $20 general admission; $15 seniors, UH faculty/staff and active military with ID (up to two tickets); $10 youth ages 13 years and older and college students with ID. Visit the Paliku Theatre website for tickets and information.
Sarah Yamanaka covers events, environmental and community news for Spectrum News Hawaii.