PlayBuilders of Hawaiʻi Theater Companyis creating The PlayBuilders Festival
Aloha ‘oe i ko
The PlayBuilders' Festival 2020
Welcome to our very first online play festival and mahalo for joining us! So sorry. No ice cream this year. No lei for the adjudicators. No hugging and kissing congratulations...Surreal, right? No worries. Time to relax, kick back and enjoy the talent of Hawaiiʻs local playwrights, directors, and actors in a new way.
When I founded PlayBuilders with Neil Milner back in early 2011, establishing the festival was our first order of business. We felt that there was a need not being met in the theatre community. Back then there was no annual play festival showcasing the works of local playwrights on Oahu. Our first festivals were called "Da Kine Readers Theater." The name has been changed a few times as we tried to find our footing, and happily, it has grown each year since then and several plays that received their first public readings with us have gone on to enjoy full productions by wonderful local theatre companies like Kumu Kahua Theatre, Manoa Valley Theatre, The Actor's Group, and The Hawaiʻi Theatre. To date, we have introduced over 90 new plays to Honolulu audiences and after Festival 2020, the number will exceed 100.
This is how the festival works. Last fall, PlayBuilders put out a press release, asking local playwrights to please send us their plays for consideration to be admitted into the festival. All the plays submitted were worthy, but these you are about to listen to or watch are the ones we thought were best. The Festival is comprised of both adults and youth under the age of 18. Robert St. John, drama teacher at Le Jardin Academy is probably the only drama teacher in the state that also teaches playwriting. His students are here tonight along with one self-taught playwright from Punahou. There was a public school teacher whose students had been accepted into the festival, but because of COVID and timing, it just didn't work out this time. But I am not going to let that teacher forget and I hope we can have her and her students here next year.
There are 15 audio files for you to listen to, and one video. The rules for the festival were that you could create either an audio file or a video. Your choice. I think you are going to be impressed with all of them.
Each playwright has had to produce their own reading. They had to find a good director, and the directors cast and rehearsed the play working working with technology they were not used to. They deserve a standing ovation. Their work is impressive as you will experience.
This year, adjudicating for us is a team of professional theatre makers led by Rasa Fournier. This is Rasa's 5th year serving as head adjudicator. Hoku Gilbert has served as adjudicator before as has most of the rest of the team. Betty Burdick, Kevin Keaveney, and the Valaseks have donated their time, experience and good judgment several times. This is Alan Shepard’s first year adjudicating with us and we are very happy to have him on board.
Awards presented this year will include best play, audience favorite, best actor, and best director in both youth and adult categories. I have been told that winners may be announced in just a couple of weeks.
Please be sure to go to our website www.playbuilders.org to learn more about the adjudicators, and see pictures of the playwrights, directors and actors. Don't forget to fill out the audience feedback card after you listen to or watch each play. The scores will be tallied up at the end of the festival and the play with the most points will win the Audience Favorite award!
Directors and actors thank you so much for bringing these plays to life with your talent, passion and hard work. You have done a wonderful job and I know that our audience is going to enjoy each recording.
Playwrights, the festival is yours. I leave you with the words of Terrence McNally who passed away March 24, 2020 due to complications of Covid-19. He said in a speech at New Dramatists, " Write plays that matter. Raise the stakes. Shout, yell, holler, but make yourself heard. It's time for playwrights to reclaim the theatre. We do that by speaking in our own unique voices. We do that by speaking from the heart about things that matter most to us. If a play isn't worth dying for- not mention months, perhaps years of rewrites and frustration- may be it isn't worth writing. Maybe the Great American Play will never be written, but we can make a glorious noise while trying to write it. Yes, theatre is fun. Yes, Theatre is passion. But above all, theatre is the oldest way of trying to tell the truth about who we are. We can compete with sharks and flaming asteroids and rampaging dinosaurs. We have...language. We have our own voice."
Best of luck to you and to the audience, we hope you enjoy the plays as much as we have loved putting this festival together.
Founder and Executive Director
PlayBuilders of Hawaiʻi Theater Company
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