Auditions for Hawai‘i Children’s Theatre MessEdge Thursday

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    Erin Gaines, the Hawai‘i Children’s Theatre administrative manager, drops in on the stage management class at the Puhi Theatrical Warehouse Tuesday.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    Bailey Hutton, in tie-dyed shirt, third from right, wraps up the stage management class at the Hawai‘i Children’s Theatre Puhi Theatrical Warehouse Tuesday.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    Participants in the stage management class, led by Taj Gutierrez and Bailey Hutton, are prompted to action at the Hawai‘i Children Theatre’s Puhi Theatrical Warehouse Tuesday.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    Taj Gutierrez oversees a stage management class student in the student’s role as a stage manager during classes at the Hawai‘i Children’s Theatre Puhi Theatrical Warehouse Tuesday.

PUHI — Hawai‘i Children’s Theatre Administrative Manager Erin Gaines wants to know: Are you coming to the Thursday audition?

Gaines was checking in on the final minutes of the stage management class being led by Bailey Hutton and Taj Gutierrez, querying departing students about the casting interviews for the upcoming MessEdge Theatre. The session will be held Thursday from 5 to 7 p.m. and Saturday from 2 to 4 p.m.

“We’re looking for teens between 14 to 18 years old,” Gaines said. “We’re looking to cast a troupe of a dozen engaging youth to use their talents to facilitate change in the community.”

MessEdge, designed to be the next step for the ongoing free theater production intensive for teens, is a peer-to-peer education troupe of young actors who use their theatrical-arts skills to translate current issues facing teenagers into engaging performances.

With funding from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, the Hawai‘i Children’s Theatre is partnering with the Kaua‘i Resilience Project, the Kaua‘i Planning &Action Alliance and Kupa‘a Kaua‘i to bring current issues around suicide prevention and resilience to the forefront.

Dr. Deb Goebert and the KPAA Resilience Project will have these actors immersed in the most-current facts on resilience and suicide prevention, and through improvisation, acting and video, this information will be translated into performance pieces for the community.

With the COVID-19 conditions, these performance pieces will be adapted to virtual production rather than visiting schools and community groups, providing an opportunity to utilize new mediums to reach more youth and learning new skills in video production along the way.

This ties in with the HCT goal of educating and enriching the island’s schools and community with the right tools to navigate complicated issues in a positive way.

“MessEdge is the next HCT phase following the production workshop series led by Taj Gutierrez and a host of Kaua‘i-based experts in different areas of theater,” said Melissa McFerrin of the HCT board.

“This phase will be focused on the formation of a troupe which will receive intensive acting training, message training and video-production training to put together original pieces created by youth.”

The MessEdge project will be team-based, involving acting training, improvisation, dramatic writing, production and video.

Chris Alderete, director of the successful, sold-out, 10th Anniversary of Hawai‘i Children’s Theatre’s After Dark program, “Leave a Light On,” will lead the training in the art of improvisation and scene study with topics relatable and relevant to teens.

Nicole Cowan, with a bachelor’s degree in performing arts from the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo, and on the board of Women In Theatre for the past five years, will be facilitating the actors in creating original scenes and a final production piece surrounding the topic of resilience in the community.

Max Richardson, a producer at Ho‘ike Community Television, has filmed plays for WIT Kaua‘i and HCT, as well as performed in “Matilda,” last year’s HCT musical. While serving in the U.S. Coast Guard, Richardson received training in resilience, and will be helping the actors to produce the final project using the medium of film.

Teens interested in being on stage or in a production role are invited to make an appointment to audition. With the COVID-19 conditions, social-distancing guidelines will be followed at all times, and actors will be required to wear face masks to enter the venue.

Information: 246-8985 or


Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, can be reached at 245-0453 or


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