PlayBuilders of Hawaiʻi Theater Company is pleased to announce the winners of this year’s PlayFestival at Kumu Kahua Theatre, as part of their Dark Night Series! Fourteen plays, written by both youth and adults, were presented at Kumu Kahua Theatre between Sunday, April 3rd and Tuesday, April 5th. The Festival is an annual event that has been organized by PlayBuilders of Hawaiʻi Theater Company over the past 5 years.

More information about The PlayFestival 2016 is available at

Play Précis

"Da Play"
Written by Lee Tonouchi, Directed by Brandon Hagio

What will artistic director Harold Hwang have for do to keep his struggling Kumu Kahua Theatre afloat? With one baby on da way, will Harold have to give up on his dream of being da Theatre Jesus? As Harold struggles in his relationship with da Board and with his Bride, does one mysterious chain-smoking philosophizing loiterer have da answers that Harold seeks? Watch da comedic drama unfold as Da Play reveals da true meaning of art. Insider jokes for fans of Local theatre abound in this daring journey into da uncharted realm of Reality Theatre.

"In Transit"
Written by Jan McGrath, Directed by Hannah Schauer Galli

The play captures a critical night in the lives of two teenaged girls. Runaways from the abuses of their mainland families, they are for this moment “In Transit.”  Having found a fragile friendship with each other from a short time of working the Honolulu streets, they have been “chosen” by wealthy sex traffickers. At a remote Big Island estate, they now await transport to parts unknown.

"Playing The S Line"
Written b
y Mark Tjarks, Directed by Lilian Jones

A young folk-blues-rap fusion music group, who appear to be from the New York streets but actually consists of school-educated musicians, plays on the Shuttle (the "S" Subway) from Grand Central Station to Times Square and back. The Group's mission of making the subway travelling public see beyond stereotypes takes a darker turn when a strange, Old Caucasian woman enters the Shuttle car.

"Shipment Day"
Written by Lorenzo DeStefano, Directed by Lorenzo DeStefano

Imagine that you have stumbled upon a family secret, a relative in exile that no one has ever spoken of. Intrigued, you meet that relative, a Portuguese cousin, and spend the next 17 years, until her death, getting to know the circumstances of her life, her struggles and her quiet achievements. Such was the case when Hawaii-born writer Lorenzo DeStefano learned about his cousin, Olivia Robello Breitha. “SHIPMENT DAY” is set in Honolulu between 1934 and 1937 and covers Olivia's experiences from the day of her diagnosis with leprosy to the day before her shipment to Kalaupapa, the Hansen’s disease settlement on Molokai where she would spend the next 70 years of her life, until her death at the age of 90.

"Aloha Mahu"
Written by S.H. Murakoshi, 
Directed by S.L Wong

Somewhere in Hawai'i nei, Melvin is growing up with a loving mom who buries her unhappiness to her son's cross-dressing desires. Mourning the loss of their patriarch, the mother and son relationship is turned upside down in this subversive comedy. The extent of a mother's love for her son, a young man's gender issues, how a mother deals with the death of her husband, and romance in middle life are explored in ALOHA, MAHU.

Written by Kirby Wright, Directed by Bree Kale'a Peters

A domineering vet challenged by his older son loses the contest and feels his control of the household is slipping away when the family uses his son’s victory as a rallying point to defy his authority. The vet retaliates by resorting to tactics learned during the war to defeat and humiliate the once victorious son.

"Ahi Wela"
Written by Marion Lyman-Mersereau, Directed by Erica Ito

Ahi Wela began as a short story to modernize a Hawaiian legend and was published by Watermark in Don't Look Back: Hawaiian Myths Made New. I chose a love story my father told me when I was a child, the legend of the naupaka, the half blossom plant. It's helpful for the audience to understand that Pele is known to be fond of gin and ohelo, that she has kinolau, many bodies; an older woman, a younger woman, a white dog, and other forms, also that she was attracted to the trickster, Kamapua'a, also known as the "Hog Child."  

Youth Night Readings

“Tumble” by Daisy Sprenger

Amanda learns the true value of her friends when she wakes in a hospital, her head bandaged, her face badly scarred, and her friends by her side. What happened? She was supposed to be on her way to Hawaii by now…


“The He Man Play” by Emilee McDonald

We all have heroes. Little Mikey loves to watch “He Man” on Saturday mornings, to the derisive amusement of his father. What Mikey’s father doesn’t know is that Little Mikey is just waiting for an opportunity to stand up to Skeletor and to teach his whole family something about courage…


“Kansas City Pet Store Christmas” by Sarah Wong

His entire life, Robert has dreamed of experiencing snow on Christmas Day. When he wakes to find the world covered in a blanket of white, he is thrilled. But this is his first Christmas away from his Southern home, and there are a few hundred things Robert forgot…

"The Dead Man" by Callum Bessinger

Certainly Carl knew when he signed up to be an EMT in rural Montana that he’d have to deal with the unexpected and the uncomfortable, even in this sleepy part of the world. However, he never figured he’d have to handle a “floater”…


“Make It Home” by Maddie Matthews

The Captain has little tolerance for Jess Warner’s incessant questioning of military protocol. And she also has little sympathy for Jess’s civilian attitudes. Still, while they might not always get along, they’re definitely in it together…


“The One-Year Victim” by Hannah Kurosu

Hannah’s new school presents more than its share of problems. The brutal realities of her situation teach her perseverance and the importance of forgiveness at a very young age. They also give her a powerful story to tell…


Publicity & Photos

Cast Photos



The 2016 PlayFestival continues our tradition of bestowing festival awards: this year's awards fall into the categories of Best Play, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress, and separated into Adult and Youth divisions. An Audience Appreciation Award is also awarded, determined by votes from audience members.

The official list of awards is listed below:

Adult Division

Best Play: Shipment Day by Lorenzo DeStefano
Best Director: Bree Kale’a Peters
Best Actor: Will Ha’o
Best Actress: Kuulei Shafee

Youth Division

Best Play: Make it Home by Maddie Matthews
Best Actor: James Christensen
Best Actress: Jennifer Fachan

2016 Audience Appreciation Awards

Youth: Kansas City Pet Store by Sarah Wong
Adult: Ahi Wela by Marion Lyman-Mersereau