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The TYA program encourages the development and pursuit of wonder, combining a foundational emphasis in drama education and curriculum development with the bold theatrics of puppetry, mask, clown, and dance. Within the flexible framework of the program, students can specialize in a wide variety of disciplines – acting, curriculum, directing, playwriting, and puppetry – all with the goal of capturing the imagination of young audiences.
We believe in an expansive understanding of TYA that should be seen on the stage, used in the classroom and sent to our world. These core values – production, instruction, and service – are fundamental to all aspects of the program.
Through breathtaking productions, the TYA program celebrates the exhilaration of live performance. Each year thousands of children, young adults and families arrive at the doors of Kennedy Theatre to be ushered into magical worlds beyond. Productions have ranged from classic fairy tales, to adaptations of children’s literature, to new works by students, faculty, and guest playwrights. These offerings are filled with adventurous theatrical designs and styles, often combining elements of musical theatre, dance, puppetry, mask, and Asian and Hawaiian theatre techniques. The TYA program rejects a diminutive notion of ‘children’s theatre’ as a lighter, lesser, inferior cousin of ‘serious theatre.’ Instead, we believe that TYA productions should strive for the highest level of artistic expression possible in every single aspect of the production.
Students in the TYA program seek to augment the power of teaching and heighten the results of student learning by exploring the techniques of dramatic practice in the classroom. This foundational emphasis situates the program at the intersection of theatre and education, at the crossroads of dramatic practice and childhood development, at the nexus of life and play.
We also believe that theatre is not only a source of delight for human flourishing, but can be used as a tool for transformation. Seeking to offer real world experience alongside theoretical components of study, the TYA program offers internships at local performing arts organizations and opportunities to serve local and global communities through the uses of ‘applied theatre’ techniques.
Degrees offered: MFA (TYA)
UHM Theatre For Young Audiences students recognized and awarded
2022 Don and Elizabeth Doyle Fellowship Recipient – Olivia Coughlin