Norma Combs, Song Writer for "Fostering Ohana"
Norma was featured in PlayBuilders’ very first community based play, Wahiawa, Remembah Wen… and also participated in the Po’okela Award winning production ofHouseless in Paradise. She is a special education teacher and currently teaches drama at Aliamanu Middle School in Salt Lake. She has a Bachelors of Business degree from the University of Hawaii and a Masters in Special Education from the University of Phoenix. She served 10 years in the U.S. Army, Air Defense Artillery and was honorably discharged as a Captain. She and her husband, Robert E. Combs, have been married for 26 years and have a daughter, Leilani Lariing Combs, and a 2 year old Chihuahua terrier, Paco.
David Griffith, Production Manager for "Fostering Ohana"
David A Griffith, (BA, MS, MFA, DD; USA Local 829 (NYC), IATSE Local 274 (Lansing, MI)) has been working in the live performing arts for over 37 years in a variety of capacities and venues. Some of his most interesting positions have been as the Production Stage Manager for Parsons Dance Company, Lighting Director for Pilobolus Dance Theatre, Production Stage Manager for the 1st national tour of NANTA–Cookin’, and holding an internship with New York City Ballet and resident lighting designer, Mark Stanley.
His lighting designs have been seen Off-Broadway, Off-Off Broadway, Edinburgh Fringe Festival, and over 12 US states. He has had the honor of being a part of over 75 world premieres as a designer. Most of his current time is spent as a consultant with a variety of companies in North America.
Layla Kilolu, Guest Music Director for "Fostering Ohana"
Layla Kilolu is an accomplished singer-songwriter from Los Angeles. She self-produced five albums and raised over $10,000 through a successful Kickstarter campaign for her album, Bittersweet Chocolate, which was awarded the Homegrown Artist award through Amoeba Records in Hollywood, California. She has collaborated with several established Los Angeles producers, Cori "DJ Fader" Jacobs (Lauryn Hill), Kevin Dippold (Smashing Pumpkins), Jonathan Burkes (That Noise), and progressive rock band, Zookeeper’s Palace. She is also the founder and lead singer of indie pop band, Mango Dreamers. She has toured across the United States and Australia, and has been featured on several TV shows and music videos. Having grown up in the foster care system, she is very honored to be a part of the Fostering Ohana project.
For more information, visit: https://www.reverbnation.com/laylakilolu
Terri Madden, Founder, Executive Director, Director/Playwright for "Fostering Ohana"
Wahiawa Remembah Wen
Yes I Am: Leeward Edition
Houseless in Paradise
Terri Madden was brought to Hawai’i by her military family in 1973 and is still married to the same sailor she met at “The Point After” in 1974. A proud grandmother of 4, she founded PlayBuilders of Hawai’i Theater Company early in 2011 after obtaining her MFA in Theatre at the University of Hawai’i. Since then, Terri has spearheaded 6 community collaborative performance pieces for PlayBuilders including “Someone Else’s Slippahs, Chinatown”, “Wahiawa, Remembah Wen,” “Yes, I am; Stories from Honolulu’s LGBT Community,” “Yes I Am: Leeward Edition,” “Houseless in Paradise” and “The Waipahu Project.” Of those 6 projects, Terri directed or served as playwright on several.
Terri is a recipient of Lisa Toshigawa Inouye Award for Excellence in Playwriting, a multiple Po’okela Award winning actress for both straight plays and musicals, and was recently acknowledged with a Po’okela award for directing “Houseless in Paradise” which was also selected as “All-Around Play” for the 2013-2014 season.
Michelle Martin, Song Writer for "Fostering Ohana"
Michelle is a continuing cast member of PlayBuilders ensemble. Performing in Xenophobia: Face your Fears, Re ad dressing Fairytale, & other readings, and short plays. Michelle moved to Oahu (March 2013) to continue to pursue in obtaining her pilots license. Putting her license on hold, Michelle now works ground operations at a flight tour company. What she loves most about her job is the feeling of being apart of an operation that shares the beauty of the Hawaiian Islands. She cares about higher perspectives, hence her passion for flight, and continues to want to expand in other ways to share the beauty of Hawaii, PlayBuilders has been that second outlet of expansion. She continues to challenge herself and study the world around her.
Becky McGarvy, Choreographer for "Fostering Ohana"
Becky McGarvey was born in Honolulu, Hawaii and took her first dance class when she was 15. She received a BFA in Dance from the University of Hawaii and has also studied at the Boston Conservatory. She is a co-founder of Spatial Sculptors; Honolulu’s first all compositional and contact improvisation dance company, and is a dancer with the IONA Contemporary Dance Theatre and Divino Ritmo. Becky has choreographed for Playbuilders'Wahiawa, Remembah Wen, and has performed in numerous performances with the Playbuilders Ensemble (PEN) as an actor and dancer.
Kris10 Misaki was born in Kaunakakai, Moloka'i. Occasionally, her Moloka'i roots shine through and you can find her barefoot, speaking pidgin. Kris10 found her love of theater at Pearl City High School. She credits Mrs. Sherry Abe and Mr. Terrance Dunford for pushing her to overcome her fears to perform. After writing and directing two plays in high school, Kris10 also performed in PCHS's glee/drama club, Crescendo. Her family jokes that she is a "career student" with two LCC associates and a UHM bachelors degree. Her love of theater continued in college at LCC. She has been in plays on both the main stage and the lab theater at Leeward. Some of these include The Vagina Monologues and Arabian Nights as well as Playbuilders productions The Waipahu Project, xenophobia and Yes I Am. Most recently she performed in LCC's A Dark and Stormy Knight. Kris10 loves the entire animal kingdom: inclusive of all phylums. When she isn't caring for her menagerie, she is fostering and rescuing injured or abandoned animals. She also loves smelling the tops of people's heads. She has been lucky enough to smell Elizabeth Shue, Anjelah Johnson, Kelly Hu, Henry Ian Cusick and Kawehi (all with permission).
John Signor, Guest Composer Mentor for "Fostering Ohana"
John Signor is a composer and multi-instrumentalist, working primarily in theatre, dance and film. A graduate of Juilliard, CalArts, The University of Miami, and Willamette University, he has worked collaboratively with Samadhi Hawaii, Tangentz, Tau Dance Theater, Iona Contemporary Dance Theatre, Hālau O Kekuhi, Nā Kinimakalehua, Honolulu Theatre for Youth, Plaza de la Raza, and Leeward Community College Theatre. Director and producer of The Lili`u Project, he has served as musical director and co-writer on productions including `Ulalena, Waikīkī Nei, and Naupaka. His work as sound designer includes Hānau ka Moku, Kahekili, Poli`ahu, Kūlanihāko`i, Duke and Clockwork. His work in children’s theatre includes collaborations with HTY (Honolulu), The Arts Alliance in Education (Honolulu), Theatre Theatre Maui (Lahaina), Plaza de la Raza (Los Angeles), and Samadhi Hawaii (Honolulu). He is a past recipient of the Hawaii State Foundation on Culture and the Arts Individual Artist Fellowship, and a Po`okela award for sound design.
Mark Tjarks, 2016-2017 Playwright-in-Residence, Playwright for the "Kupuna Project"
Houseless in Paradise
Mark Tjarks is a professor of English at Hawaii Pacific University, where he teaches scriptwriting, film, and literature courses. He wrote and produced Houseless in Paradise for PlayBuilders, which won a Po’okela Award for Overall Play in 2014 and was recognized by a State Senate of Hawaii Proclamation. His play The Unsalable Thing won the judges and audience awards for Best Play in PlayBuilder’s 2015 Festival of Original Plays, and went on to be the top vote getter for the first and semifinal rounds of the 2015 Strawberry Theatre Festival at the Harlem Repertory Theatre in New York, and to win First Place in the Best Play Contest in the William Faulkner Literary Competition. Tjarks is also a recipient of Kumu Kahua Theatre’s Resident Award, two Best Comedy Awards from the Kauai Short Festival, and an Opie for Best Play in Aloha Theatre’s Original Play Festival. He has had 31 productions and staged readings of 14 one act and feature-length plays since 2004.
Robert Yokoyama, Assistant Community Organizer, Actor
Robert Yokoyama is currently a direct support worker at Winners at Work in Iwilei and has been employed there since 2010. He teaches a job skills program and works with adults who have developmental disabilities. He helps them improve their reading and math skills. From 1999 to 2009, Robert taught the competency based high school diploma program at Wahiawa Community School. He helped hundreds of students earn their high school diplomas. He enjoys reading, writing, surfing the Internet, and watching movies in his spare time. Robertʻs first play with PlayBuilders was Wahiawa: Remembah Wen, and we went on to perform in Houseless in Paradise, and The Waipahu Project. In 2015, Robert was featured in an award winning min-documentary in which his work with PlayBuilders was featured.
The PlayFestival 2017 Organizers
Rachel Funk Heller
Rachel Funk Heller is an award-winning television producer with over twenty-five years of experience. She began her career as a journalist at CNN and worked in both the Atlanta headquarters and the Washington DC bureau. She's the author and illustrator of The Writer's Coloring Book: A Whole Brain Approach to Writing and Storytelling. A unique writing guide that provides a visual playground for both sides of a writer's brain: the passionate dreamer and the rational organizer. It's available at writerscoloringbook.com. An accomplished video editor and graphic artist, she was commissioned by the Hawaii Department of Education to produce several storytelling television programs and curriculum guides for young viewers. You can find her online at rachelfunkheller.com, and on Twitter at @RchelFunkHeller.
Robert St. John
Robert St. John (MFA creative writing, University of Oregon) has taught playwriting and devising at Le Jardin Academy for 26 years, and currently oversees the LJA International Baccalaureate high school theater program. Under his supervision, the LJA theater program has always used its limited resources as its advantage by focusing on creating original plays exclusively, and through a liberal use of sound effects and minimalist sets. He works with beginning playwrights by focusing on scene development through limiting the number of characters and enriching dialogue. His student playwrights have won numerous awards and have received a number of local productions of their plays. Each year at LJA, high school student playwrights work with him to write the main-stage school production, featuring actors from grades six through twelve. In 2014, he won the Lin Wright Award, an American Alliance for Theater and Education national teaching grant, and in 2015, he won the PlayBuilders Teacher of the Year Award, both in recognition of his contributions to the teaching of playwriting.