Screenplay by Mark Branner and Elizabeth Wichmann-Walczak
Presented in partnership with
the Hawaiian Mission Houses Historic site and archives
& the Paʻi Foundation
THIS PROJECT IS SUPPORTED IN PART BY THE ATHERTON FAMILY FOUNDATION, THE COOKE
FOUNDATION, LTD, THE NATIONAL ENDOWMENT FOR THE ARTS & with in-kind K0KUA FROM
THE HAWAIʻI ARTS ALLIANCE, KUMU KAHUA THEATRE, AND THE University of Hawaiʻi at
Mānoaʻs Department OF THEATRE AND DANCE.
Tickets are Available by clicking the ORANGE button below.
Streaming Dates are Thursday Jun 03, 7 pm to Monday June 30, 11:55 Pm.
Extra! The response has been so overwhelmingly positive,
that We extended the run to June 30!
Once you have purchased a ticket, you will receive a viewing link and a unique activation code in your confirmation email. Use this link to access the secure viewing site. Once activated, your viewing link will allow unlimited viewing for 24 hours from the time of activation. To watch the show, just click the Start Stream button at any time during that viewing window. You can pause, fast forward, rewind, or start from the beginning.
a free copy of the script is available for the hearing impaired by contacting Terri Madden at email@example.com
Photos of OYHW Rehearsals and Filming
Photographers: Becky McGarvey and Anonymous
( Poster Designer- Linda Rucci)
Photographers: Becky McGarvey and Anonymous
( Poster Designer- Linda Rucci)
About Open Your Hearts Wide
This ghost story, filled with light comedy, unpacks a very complex part of Hawaiiʻs history.
After Cook arrived to the Hawaiian islands on January 18, 1778, it did not take long for more ships to arrive carrying with them not only sailors, but whalers and business men as well. These men brought with them disease that would decimate 71% of the population by 1820. What had once been a self-sufficient, pristine, healthy country was no longer the same.
Forty years later, soon after the Kapu system had been abolished, 7 American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions missionary couples arrived, seeking permission to land.
This film covers the early years of the Missionaries arrival and explores their contributions and the relationships they had with the Aliʻi. Based on the recently transcribed Aliʻi Letters and several story circles that took place with Missionary descendents between 2018 and 2019, "Open Your Hearts Wide" is almost 4 years in the making.
Two more films are planned for the future. The second will be told from the Hawaiian perspective, and a third film will bring the both groups together in hopes that by approaching history together as a community, we can come to a better understanding, not just of the past but of our future as well.
Kimo and Malia have very different opinions regarding early Protestant Missionaries to Hawai‘i. Kimo thinks they were selfless heroes who did wonderful things for the Kingdom of Hawai‘i and its people. Malia thinks they were entirely self-serving and acquisitive people bent on manipulating and profiting off them and their land. While passing by the cemetery at Kawaiahaʻo Church, Kimo and Malia hear a beautiful voice emanating from the Hawaiian Missionary Houses Historic Site and Archives. They follow the voice and meet a friendly “Docent” who invites them to go on a tour. While being shown around the old buildings and quiet grounds, they continue to argue. But ghosts of both the early missionaries and the Ali'i appear and show Kimo and Malia more than they ever imagined. The Docent helps them to zoom with missionary descendants to hear more, and even Siri and Alexia chime in from time to time. Perhaps history is not as black and white as they thought it was, but is actually much more colorful and complex?
The Community Collaborative Way
OYHW Was Created
Several years ago PlayBuilders of Hawaii Theater Company began partnering with Hawaiian Mission Houses Historic Site and Archives to create a community-based play with Hawaiiʻs missionary descendants in order to acknowledge the 200th anniversary of the arrival of the first missionaries aboard the Thaddeus in in 1820, and commissioned playwright and missionary descendant Marion Lyman-Mersereau to write it.
Marion spent the next two 2 years asking fellow descendants one simple question, which was, "What is it like to be a descendant, and what do you think of your ancestors?" After the first draft of the play was written, PlayBuilders invited the community member descendants (or cousins as they call themselves) to listen to a reading and share their own thoughts and ideas about the play. Because of the pandemic, it was not possible to invite them to a live reading, so we offered them a beautiful audio reading of the play on Patreon and a Google survey to share their reactions. Marion took those suggestions and completed the play with those comments in mind.
Of course, we hoped that we would be able to produce a live production as we always do, but but because Covid-19 had different plans, we hired Jeff Orig of Orig Entertainment and turned Marion's play into a film. The screenplay was adapted by co-directors Mark Branner and Elizabeth Wichmann-Walczack, with important input by co-director, and PA'I Foundation Executive Director, Kumu Vicky Holt Takamine.
This production is a massive community effort with 2 community partners (Hawaii Mission Houses and PA'I Foundation), 3 directors, 3 assistant directors, 3 theatrical costumers, a music director, several singers, 27 professional actors and 18 community member performers.
PlayBuilders mission is to gather and share real stories that resonate with, empower, and connect the many culturally rich and diverse communities of Hawaiʻi.
Mahalo Nui Loa to the Following for their Kokua:
- Lisa Chow, Elizabeth Lentz-Hill, Mike Smola, Mary Ann Lentz, and other staff members of Hawaiian Mission Houses Historic Site and Archives for their hospitality and enthusiastic support of our efforts.
- The missionary descendants who generously shared their stories
- PA'I Foundation, Kumu Kahua Theatre, and the University of Hawaii at Manoa's Department of Theatre and Dance, for kindly sharing period costumes, props and space for us to work.
- Hawaiʻi Life Real Estate Brokers for their support and hospitality in donating use of their beautiful and comfortable Kaimuki office for workshopping OYHW in early 2020.
- Kai Markell for lending us his valuable Hawaiian Artifacts for this project.
- PA'I Foundation for generously sharing their knowledge, aloha and support during the production.
- The Hawaii Arts Alliance and Mark Branners' 2018 Applied Theatre Class for their help in obtaining a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.
- Donna Blanchard
- Robert Duvall
- Rhonda Hay
- Ed Kaahea
- Nick Logue
- Terry Liu
- Paul Mitri
- Jeanie Schmaltz
- Carlynn Wolfe
- Rose Wolfe
- Harry Wong III
PLAYBUILDERS MISSION IS TO GATHER AND SHARE REAL STORIES THAT RESONATE WITH, EMPOWER, AND CONNECT PEOPLE THROUGHOUT THE CULTURALLY RICH AND DIVERSE COMMUNITIES OF HAWAI'I.
PlayBuilders original plays have been supported by the Hawaii Peoples Fund, the Hawaii Community Coalition, The Geist Foundation, The Cooke Foundation, The Atherton Foundation, and The National Endowment of the Arts. Our work would be impossible without the support of individual donors like you. Mahalo nui loa
Community partners for past shows include The Wahiawa Historic Society, Catholic Charities, Hawaii, Hawaii Pacific University, Family Programs Hawaii, Waipahu Community Coalition, The Foster Care Training Committee, Partners in Development, Leeward Community College, the Mele Program of Honolulu Community College, Nanakuli High and Intermediate School, and the Hawai'i State Department of Health.
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Coming Up Next
We are always working on new projects, performances, and collaborations. Stay tuned for news on upcoming plays, behind-the-scenes updates, live events, and more. Coming soon: "Open Your Hearts Wide" by Marion Lyman-Mersereau and "Bursting Bubbles" by Laura Clark Greaver. PlayBuilders' PlayFestival will be held here on this website during the entire month of September!
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