UH Hilo Alumni Bring The Marijuana-Logues to Hilo
All-female thespian group directs and stars in production about stoners
Staff Writer Elijah Kahula
Photo Courtesy of Hawaii Community Players
Best friends and UH Hilo alumni Bria Lani Callaway, Justine Thompson, and Angie Nakamura all sat down in Ke Kalahea’s office; Callaway and Thompson on couches, while Nakamura chose the ground across from them. They came to discuss “The Marijuana-Logues,” a show they are starring in and directing coming to Hilo on April 19 and April 20 at the Grand Naniloa Hotel Crown Room.
The trio met through UH Hilo’s theater program over 10 years ago. Since then, they say, they’ve done over a dozen plays together. Many of their works, including The Marijuana-Logues, are produced through the Hilo Community Players, a local organization that encourages community engagement with theater. The Hilo Community Players have been active since 1938, making it the oldest theater group on the Big Island.
The Marijuana-Logues was first performed in 2004 by comedians Arj Barker, Doug Benson, and Tony Camin. The title riffs on the well-known 1996 Broadway production “The Vagina Monologues” due to its similarity in format. Both shows are a series of monologues, but that’s where the similarities end, said the trio. “It’s a lot more comedic and tongue-in-cheek. There’s nothing serious about our show.”
Callaway, Thompson, and Nakamura co-direct the production as well as fully act the parts. Thompson said she first had the idea two years ago to put on an adaptation of The Marijuana-Logues in Hilo. Callaway plays Tony, Thompson plays Doug, and Angie plays Arj. Similar to the original production, however, they decided keep their actual names. “It’s nice that I’m playing Arj since I can just call myself ‘Anj’ on stage,” said Nakamura.
The subject matter is what one might imagine: recounting of marijuana-related situations through a lens of comedy. Thompson said, “It’s an adventure through Marijuana-Land.” The group described the production for the show is simple. There will be sound and light cues, as well as practical effects like dry ice, but Thompson said they will dress in all-black, and they will sit on simple director’s chairs. Props will include snacks and a bong.
While conducting research about previous renditions of the production, Thompson was shocked not to find any other all-female casts despite the subject matter, in her view, being neither particularly masculine or feminine. “Girls smoke pot, too!” she laughed.
Thompson said that realization didn’t play into her choosing an all-female cast. She asked that Callaway and Nakamura join her because of their experience together in the theater and friendships. “I knew I could depend on these girls and that they would appreciate the subject matter.”
That’s not to say they didn’t encounter roadblocks to producing the play. The trio’s biggest challenge was finding a space for rehearsal due to the amount of other plays in production at the time. Though they usually rehearsed together at Nakamura’s residence, the trio also used other unconventional spaces, including a church. The Church of the Holy Apostles, an episcopal church nearby UH Hilo, had members connected to the Hilo Community Players. “They were very accommodating and understanding,” said Thompson.
When asked if the show commented on the political status of marijuana in today’s age, Callaway and Takamura had different takes. If there is a message, Callaway said, it’s to not take life too seriously. “It doesn’t have as much substance as something written nowadays would have with marijuana’s changing dynamics, but it’s fun and timeless.”
Nakamura said the show helps take down stigmas around marijuana. “You get a lot stereotypical stoners on TV. They’re listening to reggae, wearing red, yellow, and green, they’re unfocused and lazy. This show has portrayals that are a lot more universal.”
The show will be available to those age 21 and older, with tickets being sold on https://hiloplayers.org/ and at Irie Hawaiʻi Smoke and Vape Shop Bayside. The trio says that for those under 21, a show may be in the works, and to look out for one in the coming months.