Who is the old man sitting in A’ala Park or the young mother being helped by Family Promise or the disabled vet holding a sign up at the traffic light that says, “Pray for me?” Listen to the voices of those who are most affected by homelessness and learn that you may have more in common with them than you realize. The goal of this project is to spark creativity and empathy in approaching the issue of homelessness as a community.

PlayBuilders of Hawai’i Theatre Company’s Dr. Mark Tjarks has interviewed more than 60 members of the Oahu’s “houseless” community and has structured a play by and about the homeless using their words,. “Houseless in Paradise” is a unique theatrical event that features a 13 member cast comprised of 7 members from all levels of the “Houseless” Community performing along side 6 members of Honolulu’s Theatre Community. Through a process of mutual mentorship, they tell stories they have either personally experienced or interpreted from the interviews. The play incorporates music and song into what is sure to be a delightful, entertaining, and educational experience for the entire family.


Nov. 7 + 8, 2013
Nov. 9 + 10, 2013
Nov. 15, 16, 17, 2013
Nov. 22, 23, 24, 2013


Oahu Fringe Festival
Central Union Church
Catholic Charities Hawaii
McCoy Pavilion


Terri Madden, Director of a Play
Overall Play
2015 Po'okela Awards


Back Row, L to R: J. Kamamo Bailon, Norma Combs, November Morris, Andrea Valencia, Jeffery Terry Sousa
Front Row, L to R: Trissa Walter, Venus Ahquin, Kahana Ho, Robert Yokoyama
Seated front center: Kamuela Ahquin
Not Pictured: Rufus Inge III
Photo by Robyn Ocepek

Terri Madden, Director

A 40-year theatre veteran, Terri holds an M.F.A. in theater from the University of Hawai’i and is a graduate of the Cornerstone Institute, an organization that specializes in teaching the art of community collaborative theatre. She has written several community based plays including “Clinchco,The Day after Payday” which was produced in south western Virginia in collaboration with the Ralph Stanley Traditional Mountain Music Center in 2008 and 2010. Locally, her award winning play, “Appalachia, Hawai'i,” was produced prime time at the Earle Ernst Lab Theatre in 2010 and inspired the devised work she did with PlayBuilders very first fully staged community collaborative play, “Wahiawa Remember Wen…” This past summer she assistant directed and structured “Yes, I Am (Stories of Honolulu’s LGBT Community)” and is currently directing “Houseless in Paradise” by Dr. Mark Tjarks. She is a recipient of the Lisa Toishigawa Inouye Award for Playwriting and has received Po’okela recognition for performances in both straight and musical plays. Terri’s most recent performance was as the Russian poet, Anna Akhmatova, in Nancy Moss’s two person play, “Anna, Love in the Cold War” at TAG. for which she received Po’okela recognition as leading actress in a play in 2013.

Mark Tjarks, Playwright

Mark Tjarks is a professor of playwriting at Hawaii Pacific University, who since 2004 has had 17 productions and staged public readings of 10 of his plays on three Hawaiian islands and the Mainland. He is a recipient of Kumu Kahua Theatre’s Resident Prize for Playwriting, Aloha Performing Arts Company’s Opie for Best Play (in its Original Play Festival), and Women in Theatres Best Comedy and Audience awards (for its Kauai Shorts Festival). His play on intercultural conflict in Hawaii, Ventriloquists, was supported by a grant from the Atherton Family Foundation. Currently he is working on a community-based play with the homeless of Honolulu for PlayBuilders. To help him gather stories from the homeless community for, he has received a Trustees Scholarly Endeavors Program from Hawaii Pacific University.

Publicity & Photos

Hitting the Stage Review

Promotional Videos


VIP Talk Back

This photo was taken by Chuck Babbit during a discussion after “Houseless in Paradise” on Nov. 16, 2013 at Catholic Charities, Hawaii,. Pictured are the cast and individuals playwright Mark Tjarks interviewed for the play including; Jun Yan, Executive Director of Honolulu Office Housing, State homelessness coordinator, Colin Kippen, and members of the Waianae Boat Harbor Community. Note: to the far right, seated next to Mark Tjarks is Executive Director of Catholic Charities Hawaii , Jerry Rauckhorst. Jerry and his staff made the event that took place on Nov. 16th possible. It was an amazing evening where the subject of homelessness was able to be explored in a new way, through the stories of the homeless themselves. Seated in the center is Eugene. Eugene feeds the homeless in Waianae and the Waianae Boat Harbor Community pay for half the food themselves. Eugene served the food he feeds the homeless to the guests who came to see the play afterwards.

Senatorial Proclamation & Talk Back

"I am truly grateful for being able to share my story with you and also thankful that the Playbuilders could be the vehicle and voice for the homeless."

-Play Interviewee Response

Program Sponsors