Spotlight on Mo`olelo Performing Arts Center

Established in 2004, Mo`olelo Performing Arts Center has become synonymous with award-wining performances and cutting-edge productions that continue to influence and impress the theatre community of San Diego. The organization’s three plays per season are chosen to reflect founders Seema Sueko and Kim Palma Richmond’s desires to foster multiculturalism in the arts (Mo`olelo, after all, is a Hawaiian word, meaning “story”), focusing on producing lesser-known works by contemporary playwrights. Shows run the gamut from one-man minimalist acts to ensemble pieces with lavish stage design.

Outside of staging thought-provoking works, Mo`olelo offers numerous education programs, including classes and coaching sessions on acting, playwriting, and producing. Likewise, Mo`olelo brings theatre appreciation to local schools with a three-part Arts Education Outreach program accompanying each production. Part One is a 20-minute pre-show classroom discussion prior to the students’ fieldtrip to the play. Part Two is a fieldtrip to see the play. Part Three is a choice of a 50-minute post-show classroom workshop focusing on playwriting and acting skills, or a post-show discussion with the actors immediately following the performance at the theater.

The company received the coveted National Theater Company grant from The American Theater Wing in 2011, and has gone on to win some of theater’s most prestigious awards, such as the NAACP San Diego Branch Lorraine V. Hansberry Performing Arts Award, the Des McAnuff New Visions Award from the San Diego Theatre Critics Circle, and the Anti-Discrimination Committee’s Artistic and Cultural Achievement Award “for building bridges between diverse communities and cultures.”

Mo`olelo’s commitment to pay actors equity wages is matched only by its desire to protect the environment. In 2008 they received a MetLife/TCG grant to research and develop a tool to measure the environmental impact of theater. The result was Mo`olelo’s Green Theater Choices Toolkit, which was completed in 2009 and is now used by theaters across the country.

This season’s productions include 18 Mighty Mountain Warriors, Milvotchkee Visconsin, and Scott Joplin’s New Rag. In May, Mo`olelo welcomed it newest executive artistic director, Lydia Fort, who said community outreach and consensus organizing will continue as central components of her leadership. 619.342.7395 moolelo.net