To paraphrase Billy Ocean, who sang, “When Goes To Get Hard, Hard to Rough”: When Chronaviruses Hit, Honolulu Theater for Youth Goes Digital!
With public performances maintained for the duration of the state and local coronary virus restrictions, HTY is introducing the “HI Way.” It’s a new innovative program featuring three new 30-minute, video versions of the Honolulu Theater for Youth Performance as digital entertainment, which can be viewed by a family at home. The first episode is scheduled for release today.
“The series has been created around things that affect kids now, so we’re doing what HTY does best but taking it on a different platform and a different medium,” HTY Artistic Director Eric Johnson said, calling on March 20 from a disinfectant. and access-limited facilities while company actors and support crews were in rehearsal.
“We have such great artists – Reiko Ho and Moses and the whole company here – and they are all concerned about the community,” Johnson said. “There are tons of families stuck in the house – together – and they need ways to get through that time, and our board really helped us see that we can be part of the solution of helping families navigate through this.”
The series is intended to help children deal with the challenges presented by the coronavirus pandemic and its impact on daily life in Hawaii. Honolulu residents have been subject to a “stay home, work from home” order since Monday, and a “closed door” state began Wednesday.
The first episode of “The HI Way” is “Contact.” In it, Honolulu Theater for young company actors use puppets and original songs to help children adapt to the current need for social distance – staying apart and avoiding physical contact with others – and with the sense of isolation that can come from that, together and … disrupting familiar routines.
The next two episodes, “I’m So Bored” and “Fearful,” address other issues that may be part of the virus-imposed “new normal.”
“The HI Way” is streamed on htyweb.org, on YouTube’s YouTube channel and other streaming platforms, and will be broadcast on Hawaii News Now television stations.
Honolulu Theater for Youth, which includes professional actors and playwrights who produce theater for youth and family audiences, has created the digital programs for Hawaii families and elementary school-age children.
Each episode is made up of eight three-minute segments. Plans call for developing segments on things that families can do alone – how to write a song as a family, for example, one of the project.
Johnson says the current upsets in children’s lives can be like a night when the power goes out: “It can be really scary – or it can be a night you’ll always remember because your family lit candles and played board games and spent some. time together.
“If there is a way that we can help families negotiate that on a lot of different fronts, then we can continue to work” on additional segments, he said.
Johnson emphasized that in filming their production, actors and production crews were “working in small groups and maintaining social distance” as they took the new set from the final product concept.
“This is certainly a way for our artist community to continue to work and continue to contribute,” he said. “None of us wants to just drop out.”
HTY is also developing what spokeswoman Reiko Ho describes as “an interactive digital classroom” that will allow audience members to communicate directly with cast members and offer suggestions for future episodes.
Summing up, Johnson describes the new series as a change “to a new medium” and the potential to share Hawaii’s unique culture with viewers in other parts of the world.
Johnson is a time not just for our local community but for everyone, “Johnson said.” It’s a whole new area for us, but the company is excited to try this new venture and reimagine how we can be useful to those moments. “
Find out more at htyweb.org.