The New Play Festival “The sh’t you ain’t heard yet” is a newcomer to the local art scene. Co-founder Jasmin Please recently moved here and joined forces with local artists to produce their festival, which is held at and is part of the Kumu Kahua Theatre Dark Night Series. Fringe spoke with Jasmin to learn more about this exciting festival on June 21 – 23.
Tell us a bit about your creative background and where are you originally from?
I grew up in a small town in Norway, where I started doing musical theater from the age of 7. After graduating from high school, I was accepted by Rose Bruford College in London, where I trained for three years and got my Bachelors in Acting. During my third year I discovered how much I loved creating theatre, as well as acting and co-founded a production company, FAKE ID.
What have you been doing creatively since you arrived in Hawai’i?
I auditioned for a bunch of community theatre plays, and got to do a play at TAG, other than that I found it hard to get involved, it’s a small and sort of exclusive community, and it was during a walking theatre project I met people that got me into Murder Mystery theatre, the Hawai’i pirate ship adventures, which are great creative opportunities that also pays the bills. I gained three teaching jobs as well and have been teaching and directing kids all over the Island.
How did you come up with NPF? And please explain the title – it is intriguing.
My co-producers and I wanted to put on some of our own plays, and thought about doing a dark night with readings of a few of our own things. When we started discussing opening it up to other people, it made us all excited to create a platform for other people who like me, find it hard to break in to the arts here, as well as established writers and directors who want to do something that has no restrictions. A brand new platform for brand NEW writing. The name explains it all, and it is the shit you ain’t heard yet. It might be shit. But it might also be the SHIT.
Is creating NPF something that kept bugging at you until you just had to do it?
Yes, absolutely. I knew I had a deadline so I kept bugging my co-producers to establish things and to make sure they wanted to be part of it. I really wanted to create something here, in Hawai’i, something influenced by being here.
Since working on this festival what has been the most rewarding moment?
As a producer it has been a few, the writing workshop was a great success and a lot of fun, and it made me realised that other people wanted what I want. So we weren’t just doing all of this work without any interest. And getting submissions from several writers, having the writers express their excitement about getting their work produced, talented people auditioning and getting the part, not because we know them, but because they are talented and they fit the part. Giving people a fair chance.
Has the talent that you have come across given you hope that Hawai’i is capable of producing top-notch work?
Yes and no. I can only compare it to theatre I have seen in London and in Europe, and for me it’s honestly a rollercoaster, sometimes I am very disappointed, and sometimes I am full of hope. It’s not consistent, and it’s not as professional. The standards aren’t’ the same, and there are very few brave choices being made, ‘Echoes of Dat Red Guitar’ is an exception of that and a great example that it might be possible. It was so brave and original and could only have come from here in Hawai’i. What the community have here is passion, a strong passion for theatre, as so many people are willing to volunteer their time to do it. That is very impressive, but at the same time, I don’t think it’s right – some of the actors here are on a professional level and yet do not get the reward. And some of the actors are just creative people who are not on the same level at all, and as much as it creates a fun ‘anyone can do it’ culture, it’s inconsistent and it needs a very strong director to make it work.
How important is it to create a platform such as NPF to showcase local talent for the community?
Some of the theatres here are good at doing this already and Kumu is a prime example, but I don’t think there can ever be enough with so many talented people. To be honest, not everyone gets a fair chance, and it takes work and time to do it, and the talent can’t get paid, you exclude a bunch of people who can’t afford to take the time.
What can the community expect to see at your very first festival?
This year, our first attempt, all three nights will be a whole evening of theatre, for less than the price of a movie ticket! It’s a rollercoaster of different plays, new stories, told in different voices, with many talented people involved, and it’s all brand shining NEW! There will be laughter, tears, cringing and perhaps shock. We aim to create a reaction, and it will be an experience. Hopefully a good one.
O’ahu Fringe wishes The New Play Festival “The sh’t you ain’t heard yet” much success. To learn more please visit www.facebook.com/newplayfestival. For ticket information, please visit Eventbrite or contact Kumu Kahua Theatre.