Writers see works come to life at PlayBuilders Fest

May. 3, 2014 | 0 Comments In the Star-Advertiser Friday Print Edition
From left to right Kelsie K.A. Pualoa, Nyla Fujii Baab (seated), Kirstyn Tombetta, and Timothy Adams. Standing; Neal Milner, Edward Pickard, Richard Goodman, Cynthia Wicks, and Kemuel DeMoville. (Courtesy Marian Yee / My Photography)

From left to right Kelsie K.A. Pualoa, Nyla Fujii Baab (seated), Kirstyn Tombetta, and Timothy Adams. Standing; Neal Milner, Edward Pickard, Richard Goodman, Cynthia Wicks, and Kemuel DeMoville. (Courtesy Marian Yee / My Photography)

BY JOHN BERGER / jberger@staradvertiser.com

Before you can run, you must learn to walk. Before you can walk, you must learn to crawl. That in a nutshell sums up one of the reasons PlayBuilders is presenting its third annual Festival of Original Plays: The program gives first-time playwrights an opportunity to stage their works.

The PlayBuilders festival includes 13 new works by a diverse slate of local playwrights — novice writers as well as experienced writers whose work has been produced by island community groups or seen on mainland stages.


Presented by PlayBuilders Hawaii

» Where: Leeward Community College Lab Theatre
» When: 7-10 p.m. Thursday and May 9, 4-10 p.m. May 10
» Cost: $10; tickets go on sale at the door one hour before showtime
» Info: playbuilders.org

The list of directors is equally diverse. It includes veterans from Kumu Kahua Theatre, The Actors’ Group and the University of Hawaii at Manoa Department of Theatre and Dance, as well as members of the PlayBuilders ohana.

Terri Madden, PlayBuilders executive director, founded the group in 2011 as an outlet for new plays “written by, with and for the people of Hawaii.”

“We also believe that plays are an art unto themselves and that they don’t necessarily need to be performed on a stage,” Madden said.

PlayBuilders specializes in plays about island communities. It gathers the works with input from community residents, focusing on autobiographical performances by people who wish to share their personal stories with an audience.

Madden directs one of the opening-night plays, “Voices from Hawaii’s Past,” by Richard Goodman.

“There are many, many plays out there that are good, but they just haven’t had the opportunity to be heard,” she said.

“Kumu (Kahua) can only do five or six plays a year; TAG can probably only do one or two original plays a year. So there’s all these other plays that are good, but they just haven’t been heard.

“This is an opportunity for the public to come and see and hear these plays. Some of them are amazing, and some of them are, yes, in the development stage.”

Two plays seen in previous PlayBuilders festivals have been subsequently presented as fully staged, fully costumed productions: “Will the Real Charlie Chan Please Stand Up?” by Nancy Moss, at Kumu Kahua, and “Outage,” by Jan Shiarella McGrath, at TAG.

Madden said some of this year’s plays could go on to similar success.

“We’ve got people from TAG and from Kumu and from UH coming to give the playwrights feedback. … This is an opportunity also for the theaters who are producing original works to see these works.”

Here’s the complete schedule:


» 7 p.m.: “Waiting for the Pizza Guy,” by Cynthia Wicks; directed by Amanda Stone. Alcoholics, “absurdist strippers,” an imaginary band and a pizza that may not exist are components in the story of an estranged couple whose names are Boris and Natasha.

» 7:30 p.m.: “Voices from Hawaii’s Past,” by Richard Goodman; directed by Terri Madden. A collection of letters and journal entries written by sailors, missionaries, lonely lady travelers and other early visitors to the Hawaiian Islands describes the people they encounter.

» 8:30 p.m.: “It Was the Perfect Crime,” by Mark Tjarks; directed by Kevin Keaveney. Four actors trapped in the longest-running play in New York come to the conclusion that a real murder may be the only way to close the show.

» 9:15 p.m.: “Treacherous Beloved,” by Kirstyn Trombetta; directed by Ashely DeMoville. Flashbacks and flash-forwards reveal the secrets of a nameless, dysfunctional family of four in which innocence is stripped away from existence, an incestuous relationship is accepted, a frightening birth awaits and — spoiler alert– sibling rivalry results in death.


» 7 p.m.: “Henry Obookiah,” by Timothy Adams; director to be announced. Henry Obookiah was one of the first Native Hawaiians to become a Christian. He also inspired American Protestant missionaries to come to Hawaii in 1820.

» 7:30 p.m.: “The Slip,” by Mark Tjarks; directed by Kevin Keaveney. A successful pickpocket and entertainer infiltrates a senator’s private lunch with a proposition, but things turn ominous when the line blurs between his act and a security threat.

» 8 p.m.: “School Dances and Schul Dances,” by Neal Milner; directed by Nyla Fujii Baab. An adaptation of a story by Milner about how Jewish kids in the 1950s behaved when they were around other Jews and how they behaved when they were among Christians.

» 8:15 p.m.: “A Dance with Abandonment,” by Kelsie K.A. Pualoa; directed by Craig Howes. Temporary roommates Keola and Andrew face new challenges when Keola’s mother decides to move in with them. Their experiences explore themes of responsibility to culture and family, the freedom of art and the hard work of being an individual.


» 4 p.m.: “War Stories,” by Anthony Pignataro; directed by Nicole Tessier. Two World War II veterans — one American, the other Japanese — meet by accident in 1965 and discover that their wartime experiences give them much in common.

» 4:30 p.m.: “The Apple,” by Doug Ross; directed by November Morris. A humorous depiction of parents trying to get their kids to the school bus on time.

» 5 p.m.: “Home Again,” by Edward Pickard; directed by Ronald Gilliam. A woman wrongfully convicted of infanticide returns home after serving her sentence and visits the father of the child who died.

» 6 p.m.: “Dark Side of the Moon,” by David Penhallow Scott; directed by Kathy Bauer. Anna Scott returns to Hawaii dead broke and discovers that the family coconut plantation is about to be auctioned off. The only way to save the family fortune is to cut down the trees and go into the real estate business while the old ways of Hawaii nei disappear.

» 8 p.m.: “A Dark and Stormy Knight,” by Kemuel DeMoville; directed by Chelsey Campbell. A farcical take on the genre of murder mysteries and bad Agatha Christie Internet fan fiction.

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