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
For more information about PlayBuilders of Hawaii Theater Company, please visit

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

CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS – Deadline extended

CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS – Deadline extended

Event: PlayBuilders' of Hawaii is accepting submissions for The PlayFestival, dates April 13 to 14 2019    

What: Original plays that have not been produced between 20 to 40 mins in length. One acts, scenes, excerpts from full lengths, or short works

We are open to a wide range of plays and different, distinctive styles.  We encourage strong, diverse theatrical voices. Submissions can be fully realized or early drafts.  Playwrights are preferably residing in or have resided in Hawaii or the plays have a connection to Hawaii.

When: Deadline for submission is extended to Feb 18th 2019. Submissions should be emailed to . Selected playwrights will be contacted in early March.  All submissions will receive feedback from the play reading committee that includes Peggy Anne Siegmund, Rasa Fournier, Robin Kitsu, and Sujatha Raman amongst others.  

How: Standard play format is preferred with contact info and a brief bio. If you would like to, please include a brief synopsis. We will respond to let you know that we have received your submission and give you further details and requirements.

Why: The Play festival is an opportunity for playwrights to hear and see their works read and performed by professional actors on stage.  PlayBuilders is committed to supporting original theatrical works by providing a venue for staged readings. We also reach out to and invite theater professionals, agents and producers. Many of the plays that see their first production at our Festival have gone on to full productions.

This is our eight year of presenting public readings of new works.   Last year’s diverse offerings ranged from a historical drama set in Iran, to a rap performance by students.  The 2016 winner of the Best Play award Shipment Day by Lorenzo Destefano  recently had a full production at Manoa Valley Theater. Other past participants of our festival include Jan McGrath’s Outage which went on to a full production at The Actor’s Group, TAG  while Kirstin Trombetta (The Waipahu Project), was  commissioned by PlayBuilders to write community-collaborative pieces for us.  

Traditionally, on the festival nights, a panel of adjudicators comprised of professional theatre makers, will judge the plays and make a Best Play award.  In addition, a special “Audience Appreciation Award” will be chosen by audience members. This year, playwrights who wish to opt out of this process may do so. This allows playwrights with first drafts to safely submit to the festival.

PlayBuilders of Hawaiʻi Theater Company is an insured, 501 C 3 corporation. Donations are tax deductible and can be made at For more information, please contact Sujatha at 347 515 2397  or email her at