New theatrical production shares stories of false missile alert

New theatrical production shares stories of false missile alert

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Thirty-eight minutes, that's the length of time between when a missile alert was sent to smartphones around Hawaii on Jan. 13, and when it was officially called off.

It's now the title of a new theatrical production at Kumu Kahua Theatre that hit the stage this week.

"38 Minutes" is a collection of stories in the form of monologues, skits and poems. It was the brainchild of Kumu Kahua Managing Director Donna Blanchard. She says the idea hit her immediately after the alert.

"After the 'all clear' January 13, I felt like I had so much bubbling around in my head," she said. "I wanted to do something with it."

The theater, which focuses on local plays from local playwrights, issued a call for scripts. Blanchard said they had to have something to do with the 38 minutes of that day, and no more than ten pages long.

"They ranged from professionally laid out scripts by playwrights we have produced before, to paragraphs that were like stream of consciousness from people who had never written anything like that before," she said.

The stories go over a wide range of experiences from that day. "There's the people who didn't believe it. The people who panicked and said goodbye to people. And then there's the people who believed but were going to survive," said Blanchard.

Many of those stories are serious, but some of them have more than a touch of humor. The directors said everyone was impacted by the alert, and has an experience to share.

"Whether or not they felt it at that moment and that they were able to deal with it afterward, we know that when they come and watch the show, that they have a story," said Monica Coldwell, who directs the production with her husband, Squire Coldwell.

The second act is improvisational, and includes a chance for audience members to tell their stories.

"Like a couple of nights ago a young women told her story, and you could see the emotion welling up. You could tell she told it for the first time," said Squire Coldwell.

The production is performed by a seven-member ensemble who had their own experiences of the day.

Wayne Paakaula said he was one of those who questioned whether the alert was real.

"I later saw the news on what was happening Ala Moana area, Keeaumoku Street area, then we got the real insight on what really happened that day. And it was horrific," he said.

The production may be provocative and emotion, but Blanchard said "38 Minutes" is not meant to be political.

She said it was a chance for people to share their experiences. That's echoed by the directors, who say it's been cathartic for many audience members who see it.

"They're outside with us at the end of the night and we are thanking them for being a part of this show, instead of them thanking us for putting on a show for them," said Monica Coldwell.

"38 Minutes" will run through July 29 at Kumu Kahua Theatre.

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