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Kennedy Theatre

Media Release

Department of Theatre and Dance
University of Hawai'i at Manoa
1770 East-West Road
Honolulu, HI 96822

Contact: Jessica L. Jacob, Publicity Director
Phone: (808) 956-2598
Fax: (808) 956-4234
Box Office: (808) 956-7655 (v/t)
email: theatre-pr@hawaii.edu

March 10, 2005

IMMEDIATE RELEASE

"BENTON’S TWELF NITE - KNAPP’S TRIBUTE

The University of Hawai#i at M~noa’s Department of Theatre & Dance presents James Grant Benton’s "twelf nite o’WATEVA!", the popular pidgin retelling of Shakespeare’s glorious romantic comedy "Twelfth Night or What You Will." Shakespeare’s tapestry of love, desire, and mistaken identity is reborn in Benton’s Hawaiian fantasy world and directed by UHM professor emeritus Terence Knapp in memory of Benton, a UHM alum and a key figure in bringing Shakespeare to local audiences and pidgin to the stage. "twelf nite o’WATEVA!" will be performed on the mainstage of UHM’s Kennedy Theatre April 22, 23, 28, 29, 30 at 8:00 p.m., and May 1 at 2:00 p.m. Free pre-show chats will be at 7:00 p.m. April 23 and 30. The April 23 performance will be interpreted in American Sign Language.

Thirty-five years ago, on the advent of the "Hawaiian Renaissance," James Grant Benton and a cadre of UH theatre students approached visiting theatre professor Terence Knapp with their desire to learn about the works of Shakespeare. These students began to cram into Knapp’s office on a regular basis to read and discuss the works of the bard. They soon discovered that many characters required a colloquial dialect, that when performed in England might be Welsh or Cockney. Knapp suggested that pidgin would be an appropriate substitute. Four years later Benton approached Knapp, newly back from his award-winning production in Tokyo of "Junniya" (12N), this time with a coincidental surprise gift - his pidgin retelling of "Twelfth Night or What You Will" titled, at Knapp’s suggestion, "twelf nite o’WATEVA!"

Knapp shares that it was at Benton’s funerary service in 2002 that he decided "to revive the play where it first began [Kennedy Theatre]." His "intensely fond memory of it" sealed his desire to present it once more at the end of his thirty-five years of teaching at UH, and as a tribute to Benton. Well-remembered as an original member of the comedy troupe "Booga-Booga" which was popular in the seventies, Benton also gave several memorable performances on the Kennedy stage as well. These include roles in "Elms," "Bridge," "A Midsummer Night’s Dream," "Dream Play," "Macbeth," "Narukami," "Indians," and his own "WATEVA," at its 1974 debut and subsequent productions.

Two pre-show chats beginning at 7:00 p.m. are affiliated with this production. The first, before the April 23 performance, features the directors of the Hawai#i Shakespeare Festival, Tony Pisculli, R. Kevin Doyle and Harry Wong III in a discussion about Shakespeare’s place in local theatre. The second pre-show chat takes place before the April 30 performance as Terence Knapp pays tribute to Benton, the groundbreaking local comedian and author of "twelf nite o’WATEVA!"

An additional event on April 24 marks a thirty-five year tradition, Knapp’s annual "Bard’s Birthday Bash" on William Shakespeare’s birthday. This free event begins at 6:00 p.m. on the Kennedy Theatre mainstage and has, over the years, included readings of Shakespeare’s works by Knapp and his special guests as well as favorite passages performed by selected students.

Tickets for "twelf nite o’WATEVA!" go on sale at the Kennedy Theatre Box Office, outlets, and on the internet on Monday, April 11. Prices are $15 regular; $12 seniors, military, UH Faculty/staff, $10 Non-UHM students; and $3 for UHM students with validated UHM Spring 2005 I.D. For more information, charge-by-phone or disability access, call the Kennedy Theatre box office at 956-7655 (voice/text) during regular box office hours Monday through Friday, 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Tickets are also available online at www.etickethawaii.comor charge-by-outlet phone at 944-2697. A $2.00 per ticket service charge will be applied to all charge-by-phone, outlet and internet sales.

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WHAT: "twelf nite o’WATEVA"

PRESENTED BY: UHM Department of Theatre

WHEN: April 22, 23*, 28, 29, 30* at 8pm
May 1 at 2pm
*pre-show chat at 7pm
April 23 interpreted in American Sign Language

WHERE: UHM’s Kennedy Theatre

TICKET PRICES:$15 regular, $12 seniors, military,UH faculty/staff, $10 non-UHM students, $3 UHM students
w/ valid Spring 2005 UHM ID

TICKET INFO: 956-7655 (voice/text)

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