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