Pulse of the Community

Art lifts a mirror to society, and perhaps nowhere more conspicuously than through the medium of the One-Minute Play Festival. Nearly 10 years ago, New York City was the breaking grounds for the first 1MPF, a festival created as an artistic challenge to get the community talking about pertinent local topics. It has since grown exponentially, and plays annually in 24 cities, and has featured 1,000-plus playwrights and more than 8,000 one minute plays.

A flood of actors perform during a previous One-Minute Play Festival. Photo courtesy of One-Minute Play Festival

A flood of actors perform during a previous One-Minute Play Festival. Photo courtesy of One-Minute Play Festival

“And all with one singular mission,” says producing artistic director and founder Dominic D’Andrea. “To look at who we are, where we are and where we might be going in relationship to specific communities, through a series of performed moments.”

The festival has teamed up with Honolulu Theatre for Youth and Kumu Kahua Theatre for its inaugural Hawaii kickoff, but what exactly is a one-minute play? It’s literally a mini all-out play (not readings or monologues). String a bunch of them together as a whole — all written, directed and acted by local artists and employing local themes — and they represent the social climate of the community.

“Some of the themes and ideas that have bubbled up here,” says D’Andrea, are “Hawaiian history and legends, violence, economic disparity, schools, testing, development of natural resources, politics, and haole and native tensions.

“I’ve never been to Hawaii, and know very little about the culture, so this was an opportunity for us to learn and engage along with the community, which is part of our mission — to give voices to communities, populations and cities who have a unique perspective.”

Writers were given a prompt to consider the world around them and moments that can only happen here and now. Fifty plays resulted from that prompt. Format-wise, four chairs sit on the stage and 30 actors, guided by seven directors, will produce the 50 plays using those chairs as their set. Sometimes only two actors will appear in a segment, while at other times the entire group of actors may be involved, with the goal of expressing a conglomeration of themes and ideas.

“It’s like 50 pulses of storytelling, 50 heartbeats that say something about the community as it is, through the eyes of the artist,” notes D’Andrea. “When a one-minute play is good, it says something about the wider world that is larger than its tiny frame.”

Playwrights include Lee Cataluna, Alvin Chan, Terri Madden, Jan McGrath, Ryan Oishi, Joseph and Susan Stanton, and Mark Tjarks, among many others, along with direction by Annie Cusick Wood, Reiko Ho, Taurie Kinoshita, Lurana O’Malley, Jasmin Please, Junior Tesoro and Harry Wong.

Funds raised support youth and local playwright-specific programming at Honolulu Theatre for Youth and playwright residencies at Kumu Kahua Theatre.

D’Andrea was a full-time theatre director in New York before the success of 1MPF began taking him across the country. In the spirit of Walt Whitman, you might say he’s been struck by “hearing America acting,” and in that vein getting a feel for the fascinating diversity of the communities that stretch across our country, from New York to Hawaii.

“In theatre, success is really hard and comes in unexpected places,” he says. “This one just sort of hit, and then exploded!”

The Ticket Stub


When: May 23 & 25

Where: Tenney Theatre

Cost: $10-$20

More Info: 839-9885, ext. 720; htyweb.org