PlayBuilders Helps Develop Three Original Plays Being Produced this November on Oahu!

The Weekends of November 8th through November 25th are exceptionally important  for PlayBuilders. It is the first time in their 8 year history that they have played an important role in the development of 3 shows running at the same time.  They are very proud of this achievement and we hope that you will be able to see all 3.  

PlayBuilders of Hawaii Theatre Company
 #MeToo Survivors Circle

Venue: The ARTS at Marks Garage, Dates: Nov 9-11, Nov 16-18

PlayBuilders of Hawaii Theater Company presents #MeToo Survivors Circle. This is a continuation of the conversation that began last spring when we collaborated with Hawaii Pacific University on The #MeToo Monologues. Proceeds support PlayBuilders' Love Without Violence Project which we are creating with and for survivors of domestic abuse in collaboration with the Domestic Violence Action Center.  All six performances are being held at the ARTS at Marks Garage where we are proudly supporting their "Month of Empowerment." Many stories were collected by Maisa Thayer under special arrangement with Hawaii Pacific University.

Directed by Terri Madden with assistant directors Reiko Ho, Sujatha Raman, and William Ha'o.  Featuring  Becky McGarvey, Chris Emory, Deanna Espinas, Dezmond Gilla, Destiny Sharion, Erin Healy, Mala Sylvester, Maisa Thayer, Marizel Butin, Norma Combs, Rache’ Sapla, and Sasha Georgiade.


Nanakuli Performing Arts Center 
Dragonfly: A Young Local Girl's Journey Through Foster Care

Venue: Nanakuli High School Cafe and Auditorium, , Dates: Nov 9-11, Nov 16-18

Nanakuli Performing Arts Center, in collaboration with PlayBuilders Theatre Company, is proud to present Dragonfly: A Young Local Girl's Journey Through Foster Care. It tells the story of former foster youths’ experiences in the system and their struggles  with family, life, love, and forgiveness. Dragonfly is a community engaged, original musical play based on story circles and interviews conducted by Terri Madden with Oahu's former foster youth, therapists and social workers in 2016.  Songs written by  Layla Kilolu, Apu Turano, and Ruth Shiroma Foster. Supported by the Mele Program at Honolulu Community College, with musical tracks.

Directed by Ruth Shiroma Foster, featuring professional music artists like Leeward Community Collage music professors John Signore, and Shane Whitener with their students Kyle Perfect, Deither Cauton, and Honybal Sosa. Recording artists Starr Kalahahiki, Alexis Michelle Bugarin, and the Reverend Ryan Souza let their voices to support the Nanakuli Performing Arts Center students.

Manoa Valley Theatre's World Premiere Production of Shipment Day
by Hawaii-born playwright, Lorenzo DeStefano. 

Venue: Manoa Valley Theatre, Dates: Nov. 8- Nov. 2018

It is exceptionally meaningful to PlayBuilders that Manoa Valley Theatre is producing Shipment Day, which won "Best Play" at PlayBuilders' 2016 The PlayFestival. PlayBuilders has introduced almost 70 new plays to Honolulu audiences through our PlayFestival since it's inception 8 years ago.  Shipment Day is set in Honolulu between 1934 and 1937 and dramatizes the traumatic early life experiences of DeStefano’s Portuguese cousin, the well-known leprosy activist Olivia Robello Breitha.


Please make a point of supporting these original works, and we look forward to seeing you at the theatre!

"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,

PlayBuilders Produces New Album Tracks with HCC Mele Studios and LCC Musicians for Nanakuli Intermediate and High School’s Production of Award Winning Musical about Foster Care

PlayBuilders of Hawaii Theater Company Produces New Album Tracks with Honolulu Community College Mele Studios and Leeward Community College Musicians for Nanakuli Intermediate and High School’s Production of Award Winning Musical about Foster Care.

Mele Program Department Head John Vierra and Producer Ruth Shiroma Foster are available for interviews if needed. Please contact:

John Vierra,
Communication and Services Division Chair
MELE Program Coordinator/Audio Engineering Instructor
Music & Entertainment Learning Experience (MELE), Honolulu Community College
Office: 808-844-2344

Ruth Shiroma Foster, Music Director/Producer of Dragonfly Album
PlayBuilders of Hawaii Theater Company

PlayBuilders of Hawaiʻi Theater Company Produces New Album with HCC Mele Studios and Musicians from Leeward Community College for Nanakuli High School Production of Foster Care Musical.

PlayBuilders of Hawaii Theater Company, in partnership with Honolulu Community College’s Mele Studios, has produced a CD for Nanakuli Intermediate and High School’s production of their award winning, community-based musical, Dragonfly, the Story of a Young Local Girl’s Journey Through Foster Care. The Nanakuli production will open in November and will be directed by drama teacher and Milken Educator Award recipient, Robin Kitsu. The CD is being produced and directed under the leadership of Ruth Shiroma Foster and Mele Program department head, John Vierra, and is scheduled for release in early June. The album features one side that is musical tracks for students to sing over for performances and the other side include singers Starr Kalahiki, Ryan Souza, and Alexis Bugarin to teach students the songs.  Dragonfly is a musical based on true stories that educates and encourages awareness and support for Hawaii’s children in foster care.

For more information, please email Terri Madden at

Ruth foster and Dragonfly Tracks Stars.jpg

Ruth Foster and Dragonfly Tracks Superstars:
Back, left to right: John Signor, Leeward Community College Music Professor and Student Advisor; Corie Shumate, Assistant Engineer; Jordan Ciriako, Head Engineer; Josh Pena, Assistant Engineer; Jordan Jenkins, Assistant Engineer; Front: Honybal Sosa, Guitarist: Ruth Shiroma Foster, Arranger, Pianist, Production Leader

John Signor, Honybal Sosa, Shane Whitener Dragonfly Tracks Stars
John Signor, Honybal Sosa, Shane Whitener

Honybal Sosa Dragonfly Tracks Stars
Leeward Community College student, Honybal Sosa

Alexis Bugarin Dragonfly Tracks Stars
Vocalist Alexis Bugarin was one of the original cast members of Dragonfly.

PlayBuilders of Hawaii Theatre Company Announces The PlayFestival 2018 Winners!

The PlayFestival 2018 was held at Kumu Kahua Theatre 3 nights between April 15 -17 as part of their Dark Night Series. The 8 plays featured were selected from dozens of entries submitted to PlayBuilders of Hawaii Theater Companyʻs annual playwriting contest which ran from October 2017 to February 2018.

Selected playwrights this year included Daniel A. Kelin, II, Robert St. John, Maseeh Ganjali, Marion Lyman Mersereau, Carol Polcovar, Neal Milner, Anthony Pignataro, and Paul J. Donnelly. Two playwrights directed their own plays for the festival. Others were directed by well-know local directors including, Sujatha Raman, Jonathan Sypert, Miles Philips, Sammie Choy, William Ha’o, and Ron Heller.

The panel of professional theater makers who judged the plays were as follows: Actor, former entertainment columnist at Midweek newspaper, and current managing editor of the Community & Employee Engagement division at Bank of Hawaii,Rasa Fournier. Multiple award actresses Leeward Community and University of Hawaii at Manoa faculty members Elizabeth Burdick and Stacy Ray and multiple Poʻokela award winning actress, Victoria Gail White.

1. Best Play
Children of Isfahan by Maseeh Ganjali
"Riveting, well-cast, fulfilling. It stays with you and grows on you after the performance has ended. The characters have a virtue about them, and great dynamics. There’s beautiful sparseness and haunting poetry in the dialogue, “I have paste on my hands.” -PlayFestival 2018 Adjudicator

2. Runner Up
Pathways by Neal Milner
"Neal wrote a great play. He pared it down and kept it simple. The actors were all strong. There’s a clear story arch and growth in each character that was a joy to watch." -PlayFestival 2018 Adjudicator

Honorable Mention
Stonewall Stories
"While two well-structured plays earned Best Play and Runner Up, the adjudicators feel Stonewall Stories, which was “creatively honed, first-person accounts from a period of history not widely recognized, and one that continues to be highly relevant today” deserves special recognition. It is a “perfect example of what PlayBuilders is and stories that bring us to ‘the empathy gym." -PlayFestival 2018 Adjudicator

Audience Favorite
Pathways by Neal Milner

1. Best Director
Sammie Choy for Pathways
"Sammie’s direction shined through. The piece was very well staged. Each actor had meaning to their movement and the movement was minimal. The volume for each was excellent – all of each person’s lines could be heard. The actors understood their character and arch and played to the story’s themes. They shared believable emotional connections and each found a sense of resolve." -PlayFestival 2018 Adjudicator

2. Runner Up
Miles Phillips for Stonewall Stories
"Miles had quite a task directing these varied characters and having them weave their stories in a dynamic, yet structured way." -PlayFestival 2018 Adjudicator

1. Best Female
Maile Holck as Fal Hollister in Soul Survivor & Job Corps Worker/Gypsy Woman in Universal Monsters
"Maile played such different characters. She was hypnotizing to watch in Soul Survivor, and then as the Gypsy Woman in Universal Monsters, she leans in and says her lines and it’s a chicken skin moment." -PlayFestival 2018 Adjudicator

2. Runner Up
Betty Bolton as Jeanne in Stonewall Stories
"Betty’s monologue was very well done. She had a moment where she began to choke up that was very moving."
-PlayFestival 2018 Adjudicator

1. Best Male
Allan Y. Okubo as Westphal in Pathways
"He was an absolute pleasure. He was hilarious. His timing was perfect, and yet he wasn’t over the top. He hit the perfect notes throughout his performance." -PlayFestival 2018 Adjudicator

2. Runner Up (tie)
Albert Ueligitone as Aram in Children of Isfahan
"Albert’s presence, his voice and his demeanor – he carried himself stoically and yet he expressed a vulnerability. From the moment he stepped forward, he was just Wow."
-PlayFestival 2018 Adjudicator

Jonathan Clarke Sypert as Tommy in Stonewall Stories
"Jonathan was captivating. He had strong presence and every word he said could be heard."
-PlayFestival 2018 Adjudicator

Honorable Mention
--Kevin Keaveney as Cop/Customer/Interviewer/Mummy in Universal Monsters
"Kevin made every single thing he did count, and he played diverse characters. He was fun to watch. Excellent."
--Nico Wong as Opukaha'ia in Hip Hop Retelling of Opukaha'ia -PlayFestival 2018 Adjudicator

"The boy who played Opukaha’ia was charming and endearing. When he spoke extemporaneously and so sincerely mentioned how happy he was to have a role with a name for the very first time, he won us over."
-PlayFestival 2018 Adjudicator