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HPU Students Win Awards for Outstanding Theater Performances

Rob Duval takes the stage as Tom and Madeline Ruhl as Laura in “The Glass Menagerie” last spring.

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he Hawai‘i State Theatre Council recently selected Madeline Ruhl and Derek Elder, students at Hawai‘i Pacific University, as 2009 Po‘okela Award recipients. The Po‘okela Award is the most prestigious theater award in Hawai‘i. The HPU Paul and Vi Loo Theatre productions of “The Glass Menagerie,” and “Rabbit Hole,” received a total of 15 awards in nine categories. Both productions earned “Best Overall Play,” and “Best Director, Play” for HPU Professor Joyce Maltby. HPU students are very involved in all aspects of play production. Madeline Ruhl, an incoming HPU sophomore in the Bachelor of Arts

in English program, won the Po‘okela Award for Leading Female in a Play for her role as Laura in “The Glass Menagerie” last spring. “I feel honored and humbled to have been selected for the Po‘okela award,” Ruhl said. “It is something I never could have dreamed of, going into my freshman year of college last year!” Ruhl plays the flute and piccolo in the HPU Sea Warrior Band. She has appeared in productions prior to attending HPU, including “Metamorphoses,” “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” and “Full Circle.” “My father is a musician and actor, so I’ve been exposed to theater all my life,” she said. “When I

After sustaining injuries in an accident, Madeline Ruhl used her injuries to impact her performance as the emotionally and physically crippled Laura in “The Glass Menagerie.”

was little I had a few stage appearances, like singing with Andy Williams for a holiday season in Branson, Missouri.” Ruhl said she enjoyed working with highly experienced local actors on the Tennessee Williams play. “This is something HPU Theatre has to offer that other university theater departments do not,” she said. “Working under the guidance of three brilliant and professional actors was an invaluable learning experience for me. I gained so much insight from them, as well as some wonderful friendships.” The play also came around during one of the more difficult moments in Ruhl’s life. She was struck by a car while crossing the street and was injured. Although she was on crutches during the rehearsal, Ruhl utilized her injuries to further impact her performance as Laura, who in “The Glass Menagerie” is emotionally and physically crippled. “The limp made Laura’s condition more real for me, and even after I healed fully, it was not difficult to return to that place,” she said. “The role of Laura inspired me to keep growing and adapting, even in the face of such a traumatic event.

Leslie Duval plays the role of Becca, and Derek Elder performs as Jason in “Rabbit Hole.”

That, plus the endless love and support I received from everyone involved in the production really kept me going.” Ruhl said receiving a Po‘okela Award has inspired her to continue working in theater, something she loves to do. “I look forward to having the opportunity to work with the HPU Theatre in the future,” she said. Heading from the stage to the courtroom Derek Elder, incoming senior in the Bachelor of Science in Diplomacy and Military Studies degree program, won the Po‘okela Award for Featured Male in a Play for his role as Jason in “Rabbit Hole” last fall. “I was very surprised,” said Elder. “I was out of state and a fellow cast mate who attended the awards ceremony sent me the results in a text message while I was sleeping. It was a great way to wake up in the morning!” Elder was last seen in the spotlight as Cleante in HPU’s “The Imaginary Invalid.” He was also cast as Prince John in HPU’s production of “The Lion in Winter.” “I have been acting most of my life,” Elder said. “In elementary and middle school it was

obligatory that all students act in the featured annual school play.” He also acted in various productions in high school. However, unlike any other performance in which he previously appeared, “Rabbit Hole” was not only a special experience for him, but the cast became his second family away from home. “The bond we shared through rehearsals and performances was unique, to say the least,” he said. Elder said while he truly enjoyed the experience, the weight of the character’s emotion started to affect his personal life. In “Rabbit Hole,” Jason is a 17-year-old driver who accidentally hits a fouryear-old child. “My role as Jason was a totally new character for me to portray. The amount of guilt, remorse and selfrealization I had to express was something very new to me,” he said. “In a way, Jason let me learn a little more about myself.” Elder said he is eager to audition for more plays at HPU, and he is looking ahead to plans after graduation. “After I graduate from HPU I plan to attend law school,” he said. “I have just learned so much at HPU, and have really enjoyed the Hawai‘i

Pacific theater experience. Joyce Maltby and the theater crew have given me truly memorable opportunities to perform.”

HPU Paul and Vi Loo Theatre 2009 Po‘okela Recipients: Overall Play • “The Glass Menagerie” • “Rabbit Hole” Director, Play • Joyce Maltby, “The Glass Menagerie” • Joyce Maltby, “Rabbit Hole” Leading Male, Play • Jim Aina, “Rabbit Hole” Leading Female, Play • Eden-Lee Murray, “The Glass Menagerie” • Madeline Ruhl, “The Glass Menagerie” • Leslie Duval, “Rabbit Hole” Featured Male, Play • Derek Elder, “Rabbit Hole” • Elitei Tatafu, “The Glass Menagerie” Featured Female, Play • Virginia Jones, “Rabbit Hole” Set Design • Karen Archibald, “Rabbit Hole” Lighting Design • Janine Myers, “The Glass Menagerie” • Janine Myers, “Rabbit Hole” Sound Design • Kevin Craven, “The Glass Menagerie”


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