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Honolulu play finds comedy in the red tape of building permits

Rehearsals for TAG's "Building Permit." Sept. 15 - Oct. 1, 2023.
The Actors' Group
Rehearsals for TAG's "Building Permit." Sept. 15 - Oct. 1, 2023.

A Honolulu theatre organization says an upcoming play about its ordeal to get a building permit from the Department of Planning and Permitting is half fact, half fiction.

In the play, actual board members of The Actors' Group recall the dilemma of moving from their Chinatown location to a new home at the Dole Cannery Shops in Iwilei. It plays out against a backdrop of bribery scandals at Honolulu Hale.

"The play is essentially tongue in cheek, kind of describing what we went through. We started in 2010 and it took us, as I recall, about five years to finally get the building permit, and then another year to finally pass inspection," said Eric Nemoto, the writer-director of "Building Permit" and the president of TAG.

"The play does fictionally kind of dovetail into the fact that the characters who are in the DPP in the play, you know, finally get exposed for the corruption. So it didn't happen to us personally, obviously, you know, during that time, but it kind of all comes together in this place," Nemoto said.

"Building Permit" opens on Friday, Sept. 15. That night is already sold out and a few others are too, so don’t delay if you want to be entertained about getting tangled in the red tape of permitting.

"It also has a social message about, you know, our local style and where you divide showing aloha and where does it transcend into bribery. So it's what we term a real-laugh comedy, but it does have its social debate, so I think people coming to this play will be highly entertained," he added.

This interview aired on The Conversation on Sept. 13, 2023. The Conversation airs weekdays at 11 a.m. on HPR-1.

Catherine Cruz is the host of The Conversation. Originally from Guam, she spent more than 30 years at KITV, covering beats from government to education. Contact her at ccruz@hawaiipublicradio.org.
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