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Film trailer of UH Hilo’s Banyan production.

It’s been two decades since the tragic events of 9/11. To pay homage to one of the nation’s darkest days, the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo Department of Performing Arts and the Performing Arts Center will debut its fall season with the production Banyan. The play, written by California-based writer Jeannie Barroga, takes place after the attacks and parodies the chaotic moment in history of falling buildings and intertwines symbolic Wizard of Oz icons.

“We are opening on 9/11 because this year marks 20 years since that day, and the central character in the play is dealing with the trauma and fallout from that event,” said UH Hilo Associate Professor of Drama Justina Mattos, who directed the production.

outside of a building
UH Hilo Performing Arts Center (Photo credit: Kirsten Aoyagi)

Due to the pandemic, the performance was filmed over the summer, will premiere virtually on September 11 and run continuously through the 13th. A viewing link will be available here beginning on opening day.

“I found out about the existence of this play through a Thursday evening playwrights’ Zoom Hui that I created and have been leading since the start of COVID a year-and-a-half ago,” said Mattos. “We gather online each week to read works in development, and many of the works have appeared onstage or online after being workshopped with us.”

The play’s lead actress is Rhealiza Pira, a 2017 alumna of the UH Hilo performing arts and English departments. Bios of the full cast can be found here (PDF).

For more go to UH Hilo Stories.

—By Susan Enright

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