Bursting Bubbles, PlayFestival, and Missionary Stories

Bursting Bubbles Project


PlayBuilders is currently working with recovering survivors of domestic violence, meeting once a week, sharing stories while working on a collaborative play that will educate the public regarding this very complex topic.

We are working in collaboration with Jenny Delos Santos, author of "Falling Perfectly Without Trying" and A.M. Mayes, author of "Saved by Zero." These two books serve as the inspiration and cornerstone of this project.

Theatre practitioners working on this play include directors Laura Clark and Misa Sione, and playwrights Elizabeth Wichmann-Walczak, Lauren Ballesteros, and Deanna Espinas. Members of the PlayBuilders Ensemble include Mala Sylvester, and Deanna Espinas. Please donate today! Proceeds will go directly to Bursting Bubbles until we have enough to get the project up and going. Your gift will help empower survivors and transform communities.

" As a psychologist who has worked with survivors, I found my heart caught in my throat multiple times...there was a healing that occurred"

Gwen Williams regarding #MeToo Survivors Circle

"Its important work - not just entertainment. Something changes when you perform your own story and hear other peopleʻs"

Survivor and Performer. #MeToo Survivors Circle.

The PlayBuilders Festival- Submission Window is Now Open!

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PlayBuilders announces the submission window is now open for the 9th Annual PlayFestival. Please send your full or one act length plays to submissions@playbuilders.org.

We need help with organizing so those playwrights who are not submitting this year, please contact Terri at terri.madden@playbuilders.org to join this year’s organizing committee.

We want your thoughts on how this should be run.

Teachers! If you have students who are interested in writing plays, and would like a volunteer playwright to come to your classroom to discuss playwriting with them please give me a call, and remember, We always welcome new talent to The PlayBuilders Festival!

Terri can be reached at 808-218-0103

Did you know?

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Marion Lyman Mersereau, winner of the 2011 PlayFestival and author of the play and childrenʻs book, "Eddie Wen Go" has been commissioned to write "Open Your Hearts Wide" a play written with and for Hawaiiʻs missionary descendents. Here she is pictured with Steven Wagenseller who directed "Eddie Wen Go" and two young actors who performed in the reading with their mom.

If you have a missionary story to share, please let us know by emailing Terri at terri.madden@playbuilders.org

PlayBuilders of Hawai‘i Theatre Company to Receive $10,000 Grant From the National Endowment for the Arts


PlayBuilders of Hawai‘i Theatre Company to Receive $10,000 Grant From the National Endowment for the Arts

A Honolulu theatre company founded in 2011 will receive funding to support their first production in a trilogy of plays that will explore the complex social history between Missionary Descendants and Hawaiian Ali’i

HONOLULU, HAWAI‘I — National Endowment for the Arts Acting Chairman Mary Anne Carter has approved more than $80 million in grants as part of the Arts Endowment’s second major funding announcement for the fiscal year 2019.  Included in this announcement is an Art Works grant of $10,000 for PlayBuilders of Hawaiʻi Theatre Company to develop and produce a play in collaboration with Hawaiian Missionary Houses Historic Site and Archives.

According to Terri Madden, founder and artistic director of PlayBuilders, “This is our very first federal grant. From my understanding, only 11 grants are being awarded to nonprofits in Hawai’i during this grant cycle. We are very honored and grateful to be among them. It gives us a great deal of confidence to receive the NEA’s stamp of approval on the social and artistic merit of this project.”

The play will be produced in August of 2020, the bicentennial anniversary year of the arrival of New England missionaries on board the Thaddeus to Honolulu Harbor in 1820.

Yet to be titled, the play is the first of a trilogy of productions that will explore the complex social history shared between missionary descendants and Hawaiian Aliʻi. Marion Lyman-Mersereau is writing the first play from a community-centric methodology, using story circles, and personal interviews with descendants.

A second play, organized by Aaron Sala, will follow within two years and will be shaped in the same manner, but using the voices of Hawaiian descendants. The series will conclude with a third play serving as a bridge with the hope of bringing both groups together.

Art Works is the Arts Endowment’s principal grant-making program. The agency received 1,592 Art Works applications for this round of grant-making and will award 977 grants in this category.

“These awards, reaching every corner of the United States, are a testament to the artistic richness and diversity in our country,” said Mary Anne Carter, acting chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts. “Organizations such as PlayBuilders of Hawaiʻi are giving people in their community the opportunity to learn, create, and be inspired.”

“We are grateful for this support and endorsement. I am also very appreciative for the help assistance provided by Terry Liu of Hawaiʻi Arts Alliance, Mark Branner with his University of Hawaii’s Applied Theatre Class, and Hawaii Mission Houses for their help with the NEA grant writing process,” added Madden. “We couldn’t have done it without them. This process, like all of our work at PlayBuilders, has been community collaborative!”


CONTACT: Terri Madden,

For more information about this National Endowment for the Arts grant announcement, visit arts.gov/news.
For more information about PlayBuilders of Hawaii Theater Company, please visit playbuilders.org.

PlayFestival Winners Announced!

PlayBuilders Festival 2019 Winners

· First place: Kahala Blues by Rich Figel
· Runner up: Winter Wedding by Carol Polcovar
· Special young playwright honorable mention:  Birdman Maggie Odom  (which she wrote at age 15)

· First place: Misa Tupuo for Kahala Blues
· Runner up: Robert St. John for Birdman & Winter Wedding
· Honorable mention: Will Ha’o for An Hour with Queen Liliuokalani & Let the Dead Pass By

· First place: Anna Hamaguchi & Maseeh Ganjali in A Wilderness of Monkeys
· Runner up: Daniel A. Kelin II in Birdman
· Special ensemble recognition: The cast of Kahala Blues
· Honorable Mention: Shiro Kawai for his cameo in Kahala Blues

· First Place: Kahala Blues by Rich Figel
· Runner up: Birdman by Maggie Odom
· Honorable mention: Winter Wedding by Carol Polcova


The PlayBuilders Festival 2019
April 13-14
Arts at Marks Garage, 1159 Nuuanu Avenue

PlayBuilders is pleased to announce eleven original works for The PlayBuilders Festival 2019:

Dirty Kitchen, Happy Bar by Sean- Joseph Choo
Stairway to the Stars by Lorenzo DeStefano
Kahala Blues by Rich Figel
Romance by the Surf by Daniel A.Kelin, II
Velvet Red by Fili Leasau
Let the Dead Pass By by Michael Markrich
A Wilderness of Monkeys by Jan McGrath
Birdman by Maggie Odom
Winter Wedding by Carol Polcovar
An hour with Queen Lili’uokalani by Rianna Williams
As Big as a Dallas Cowboy by Kirby Wright

The staged readings will be performed at Arts at Marks Garage, 1159 Nuuanu Avenue.

The PlayBuilders Festival presents public readings of original works in all stages of development. Placing the playwright front and center, the Festival is a gathering of the theater community in Hawaii and is centered around PlayBuilders belief in the importance of sharing stories. Tickets are available at https://tickets.honoluluboxoffice.com/e/playfestival2019/tickets.