"What are you, a director, an actor, or a producer?"


This past weekend, I had several people ask me, "What are you, a director, an actor, or a producer?" I guess they asked me that because I just finished producing the PlayFestival and went on to direct "#MeToo Monologues."

To me that is a little like asking a mother does she consider herself a cook, a maid, a teacher, or a nanny. She is all those things because she has to be. I do what is needed, but I consider myself primarily a community organizer who brings people from different sectors together with theater makers to explore our geographic communities or a given topic of concern to our communities.

The problem I have as a community organizer is the pool of talent available to me is not infinite. There are limits, especially here on Oahu where there are several theater companies who have actual physical theaters, and more to offer their actors and directors as far as a stage, costumes, and a proven script they can sink their teeth into and bring to life.

The people who work with me have to be made of an adventurous spirit combined with vision, faith and belief that we can create something from nothing. I have been called "Crazy" to my face or in writing more than once over the last 7 years.

Lately it has been easier. Mark Tjarks is busy writing a play for our island kupuna which will may be produced by Kumu Kahua one of these seasons. We recently commissioned Marion Lyman-Mersereau to write a community based play with and for missionary descendants, in collaboration with the Hawaiian Mission Houses Historic Site and Archives. William Ha'o and Mark Branner are directing. Mark Branner's applied theater graduate students are actually writing an NEA grant for the play. Nanakuli High and intermediate school is producing "Dragonfly" in the fall with Robin KitsuRuth Shiroma Foster is about to finish producing the tracks for that production with the Mele Program at Honolulu Community College (who engineered it for free. Mahalo, John Vierra) I am now beginning to turn my sights to something else- domestic abuse survivors, because a community member has approached me, saying there is a need. I think I have a playwright for that one. Not sure.

I still love getting into the thick of things with doing actual writing, directing, or acting- but the important thing to me is that it is done- and it does not have to be done by me. I think I might want to direct the Domestic Abuse piece, or maybe serve as an actor. Maybe that is the word I am looking for. Serve.

I want to serve my community using what skills I have which just happen to be theater. Theater to me is a way for us to safely explore truth and to effect positive change in our communities. If you are interested in using your talent in this way, please private message me. We always have something going on and we can always use a helping hand.

Aloha Pūmehana,