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Kumu Kahua Theatre & Conch Shell Productions' Annual Reset Series Has Profoundly Increased Audience For Writers Of Color

The companies have increased viewership of their work by more than 400% since they began collaborating in June 2020.

Kumu Kahua Theatre & Conch Shell Productions' Annual Reset Series Has Profoundly Increased Audience For Writers Of Color

Honolulu-based Kumu Kahua Theatre and New York City-based Conch Shell Productions have increased viewership of their work by more than 400% since they began collaborating in June 2020.

Nearly three months into the COVID-19 pandemic, Kumu Kahua Theatre and Conch Shell Productions along with Braata Productions, formed an alliance called Reset Theatre Coalition designed to spotlight playwrights of color in America and their responses to current events and/issues. In the midst of the #BLM response to police brutality, the coalition brought their communities of BIPOC writers together to produce a live-streamed series of short plays reflecting diverse views on oppression in America and prompting dialogue between their artists and communities. More than 10,000 devices logged in to watch the series.

"In an average pre-pandemic year, we were happy to put 10,000 'butts in seats'" says Kumu Kahua Theatre Managing Director, Donna Blanchard. "Devices have logged in to watch what we're doing a whopping 31,120 times since we started streaming our work. If we conservatively guess that 1/4 of those had two people watching the same screen, that's potentially nearly 40,000 individuals. Of course, some of those are repeats - individuals who have watched more than one piece we've created - that is also impressive."

Conch Shell Productions has also increased their viewership by more than 400%.

Donna Blanchard and Magaly Colimon-Christopher (Founder/Producing Artistic Director of Conch Shell Productions) agree that the Reset series is responsible for not only increasing their viewership numbers for the series itself, but continued viewership throughout the last 12 months.

Possibly more notably, all of the theatre professionals involved in the original series collaborated to pioneer techniques of writing, directing, designing, and producing live theatrical performances with all personnel involved isolated in their homes.

"There is nothing more life affirming than the experience of working with artists with a powerful message, and working with Kumu Kahua Theatre's community of artists is guaranteed to be a powerful experience." Says Magaly Colimon-Christopher. "I am grateful for the gateway provide by online theatre co-productions that allows small theatres like Conch Shell Productions to collaborate with theaters outside of New York City that share our mission to showcase powerful, unique voices of BIPOC artists - specifically Caribbean Diaspora (CSP) and AANHPI (KKT) artists."

A live performance of the second and closing week of Reset 2021 will air on Saturday, July 31 at 2PM HST / 8PM EST. The two-part series runs on the Facebook pages and YouTube channels of both organizations. The entire 2021 Reset series will remain on those channels indefinitely.

The 2021 series includes nine new plays by writers of color, each inspired by the theme: FEMALE STRENGTH. The series features nine new short plays written by Caribbean Diaspora, and Asian American and Pacific Islander playwrights that explore the courage and strength of women when faced with challenges. Reset Series 2021 playwrights include Tanya Perez, Hannah Ii-Epstein, Phanesia Pharel, Lee A. Tonouchi, Gretchen Suárez-Peña, Kimiye Everard, Jeannie Barroga (Lifetime Member, Dramatists Guild), L. Trey Wilson, and Michelle De Joya.

The 2020 collaboration was archived in Conch Shell Press' publication of short plays - WE'RE NOT NEUTRAL: RESET SERIES 2020 COLLECTED SHORT PLAYS.

Reset Series 2021 is partially funded by a grant from the 2021 NYSCA-A.R.T./New York Creative Opportunity Fund (A Statewide Theatre Regrant Program).




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