Monday, November 23, 2015

Staging a student-led show

Note: Story updated to reflect performance opening on Thursday, Dec. 3 

When "Next Fall" begins its run at Paul and Vi Loo Theatre on Thursday, Dec. 3. it will be the first student-led mainstage production at Hawai‘i Pacific University. HPU students can attend the show for free.

The acclaimed play was written by Geoffrey Nauffts and directed by theater student Joshua Aiu.

"The show is not a musical, which is what a lot of community theaters do," said Aiu. "It's a dark comedy. There's nuance."

The play centers around a five-year relationship between Adam and Luke, but goes beyond a typical love story, Aiu said.

"It deals with religion, lack of religion, love, Christianity, Judaism, atheism, heterosexual love, homosexual love, divorce. It deals with everything. You come to see this show, you're going to walk away with something."

He's quite proud of the cast, all HPU students. They have poured over the script and rehearsed performances to deliver an emotional punch to audiences.

"We want them to laugh uncontrollably. We want them to cry to the point where they die. That's the goal of the show. We want to make you laugh and in the end, you're going to remember those laughs are so precious."

Aiu said HPU's new student-centered theater program, with the support of drama instructor Troy Apostol and Director of Performing Arts Teresa McCreary, allows the students the freedom to push their talents in a collaborative environment.

For example, instead of casting to fill the role of someone in his late 40s, the student will need to "transform to fit that age," Aiu said.

"Everyone else would cast that age. We're going to stand on our ability of acting."

Aiu is passionate about the stage. Born in Hawai‘i to a family with a strong performing arts background, he is a graduate of Kamehameha Schools where he studied drama.

He started at HPU last year. "Next Fall" will be the first play that he's directed for a general audience.

Aiu especially invites HPU students to the show, to see what their friends are bringing to the stage. That's why students can attend for free.

"You're seeing your peers go to new heights and new limits," he said proudly. "This is a beautiful thing. We're going to do this show for you."

"Next Fall" runs until Dec. 6. For more information, see

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