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Nothing without a company presents

not one batu

CHICAGO, May 30th, 2018 -  Nothing Without a Company is proud to announce the Chicago premiere of the award winning Not One Batu*, written by Co-Artistic Director Hannah Ii-Epstein, directed by Rachel Slavick, in association with cultural specialist Lanialoha Lee and Aloha Center Chicago. Not One Batu is the first full-length Hawaiian Pidgin-English play produced in Chicago, centered around the meth epidemic in Hawai’i and its impact on families for generations. Not One Batu previews June 22nd, 23rd, 25th, and 26th, opens on June 27th, and closes on July 21st. The play runs Wednesday through Saturday at 7pm, at Berger Park Cultural Center Coach House, 6205 N. Sheridan Rd., Chicago IL. Tickets are available at The press opening is Wed, June 27th, 7pm.

Synopsis: Meet Honey Girl: a former meth user, now an expert drug dealer. At Hale’iwa beach park one morning, Honey Girl meets with customers and friends, rival dealers, and her addict mother. Amusing, intimate and occasionally disturbing, Not One Batu follows Honey Girl’s struggle to stay clean in a world turned upside down by meth. The 1st act is an immersive gathering to talk story* with Honey Girl and her crew and enjoy live entertainment by Aloha Center Chicago in the Berger Park Coach House, then audience will move outside to the lake front for the non-interactive 2nd act. This play contains strong language, physical violence, and drug use.

Cast: The cast features Lelea’e “Buffy” Kahalepuna-Wong, Marie Tredway, Scott Hanada, Bobby Wilhelmson, Jae K. Renfrow, Gloria Alvarez, Tony Rossi, Ian Voltaire Deanes and Heather Jencks. Lelea’e “Buffy” Kahalepuna-Wong will be flown in from Hawai’i to reprise her role as Ma.

Hawaiian Pidgin English: Pidgin (with a capital P) is the common way of referring to what linguists call Hawai‘i Creole, the creole language that emerged on sugar plantations in Hawai‘i during the middle to late 19th and early 20th centuries.*** It is a mix of the languages spoken by Hawaiian, Filipino, Chinese, Puerto Rican and other workers who toiled in the state’s sugar plantations.**** In November 2015, Hawaiian Pidgin English was listed as the official language of the state of Hawaii. To non-Pidgin speakers, it may sound like slang. For example, "dat" means that and "fadda" means father or dad.*****

In the playwright's note, Ii-Epstein wrote, “After being in recovery of meth for over ten years I had an opportunity to use (I saw it as an opportunity anyway). Instead of hitting the pipe I wrote. I wrote for every addict out there, every person that has used batu, and every person that has known someone that has used batu. I wrote my experiences, my friends experiences, my o'hana's experiences, and my community’s experiences. I changed names and facts to protect the innocent, and in doing so, I found myself no longer consumed with the burning need to satisfy my addiction. I found myself in a place where I could work through it. Although not one person can be truly free of addition, it's a choice we make every day to be better. I want the people of Hawai'i to know that our choices matter and our choices affect every single person in our lives.”

The Director Slavick commented on the play, “Hannah Ii-Epstein's script, Not One Batu, beautifully illuminates the meth epidemic through the eyes of one dealer, her clients, and family in a poorly understood community; the Pacific Islander community in Hawai’i. Fast, funny, and sad, Not One Batu invites us to witness and understand these beautiful/monstrous, hopeful/hopeless people as they navigate the perilous waters of addiction and recovery.”

"When I think about Hawaiian Pidgin English being heard by US Mainlanders for the first time, I wonder if it may feel similar to how Shakespeare’s plays sound. The words have a rhythmic tone, and even though everyone may not know the meaning of each word, the gist comes across thanks to the intention and the relationships in the play," says Anna Rose Ii-Epstein, the Co-Artistic Director of Nothing Without a Company.

Playwright bio: Hannah Ii-Epstein (she/her/hers), born and raised on the North Shore of Oahu, recently received her MFA in Writing for the Screen + Stage at Northwestern University. She is a writer of fiction, poetry, screenplays, plays, and musicals. She is a Co-Artistic Director, Board Member, and a Founding Member of Nothing Without a Company. Since 2007, over ten of her plays and musicals have been produced by Nothing Without a Company, About Face Theatre’s Babes on Stage, Fury Theatre's SAST, Mary-Arrchie's Abbie Fest, and Nothing Special Production's Fight Night. Hannah has written for many 24 Hour Fests for Nothing Without a Company, Silent Theatre, Columbia College Chicago, and Northwestern University. She was awarded 30 under 30 in Windy City Times in 2014. Hannah's film, Sweet, won Best Film Runner Up in Chicago's 48 Hour Film Project 2015. In 2016 Hannah and her play, Not One Batu, was honored by Hawai'i State Theatre Council Po'okela Awards in the categories of Non-Resident Guest Artist and Overall Play.

Production team: The creative team includes Ray Goldberg (Production Manager), Christopher Sylvie (Stage Manager), Mark Bracken (Set and Light Designer), Whitney Masters (Costume Designer), Jaq Seifert (Fight Choreographer), Almanya Narula (Assistant Fight Choreographer), and  Val Gerard Garcia Jr. (Dramaturge).

Not One Batu was the 2016 winner of 6 Po’okela Awards, including Overall Play Guest Artist (Non-Hawai’i Resident) (recipient Hannah Ii-Epstein), Featured Female in a Play (recipient Lelea’e “Buffy” Kahalepuna-Wong), and Leading Female in a Play (recipient Danielle Zalopany).

Nothing Without a Company offers student and industry discounts upon request sent to boxoffice@nothingwithoutacompa Ticket prices range from $12.50 to $30.

* “Batu” is Hawaiian Pidgin for methamphetamine.

** “Talk story” means to chit-chat or gossip.

*** "Talking Story about Pidgin," University of Hawai'i   

**** "Data Inspires Pride for Pidgin, a Hawaii Language," Star Advertiser

***** Kerry Chan Laddaran, "Pidgin English Now An Official Language of Hawaii," CNN