PlayBuilders mission is to gather and share real stories that resonate with, empower and connect individuals within the many culturally rich and diverse communities of Hawai’i.
We are what is known as community-engaged theatre. We work with Hawaii’s geographic neighborhoods and identity specific groups to create and produce original plays based on knowledge shared by community members. Although there are many companies of this type in the United States and other parts of the world, as far as we know, PlayBuilders is Hawaii’s first.
The PlayBuilders Process is Very Simple:
We consider our process of play development more important than the play Itself because we provide a means for community members to explore their identity, thoughts and ideas though storytelling and provide a stage to share what they find with the greater community. It is community strengthening and we have learned that this kind of theater can be very healing to people who have experienced a great deal of forced change or trauma in their lives. This is not to be rushed, and the 1 to 3 year process is as follows:
- We identify a community we would like to work with. We approach organizations that serve that community and if they are interested, we commit ourselves to the project and they become our “Community Partners.” Then, together, we connect with knowledgeable community members to collaborate on the creation of a play.
- We host story circles and conduct other methods of research to inform the play. Sometimes we collect stories with a playwright, who writes the play independently. Other times a director devises the play with community members and actors during rehearsals.
- As soon as the play’s first draft is ready, we return to the community and present a private reading for feedback and suggestions. Then it is back to the drawing board for the playwright who will finish the final draft, always keeping in mind what is pono to those who shared their stories.
- At last, community member auditions take place and the play is rehearsed for approximately weeks. The set is built, lights are hung and costumes are made. Finally, we reach opening night and joyfully the play is performed before a live audience.
High Praise for PlayBuilders!
(PlayBuilders) came to our town like an Olympic torchbearer carrying the flame...the light. They listened to the community’s needs and concerns and nurtured a play that we are all proud of.”
- Dr. Jared Kanemaru, Wahiawa Historical Society
... I see now that I am not the only one to have experienced this. I am not crazy. This has been very healing. I am so glad I came.”
- Young Audience Member, Yes I Am; Leeward Edition
I appreciate the opportunity that you afforded us to speak for our beloved Kalana Kukaniloko, to our own community of Wahiawa. Many have come to me to say they remember our participation in the play and did not realize what was going on in our own backyard...
- Jo-Lin Lenchanko Kalimapau, Hawaiian Civic Club of Wahiawa