Monday, April 22, 2019

Advice to Prospective Grad Students: University of Hawai’i Manoa

I have just recently arrived back to UHM (where I received my MFA degree) as the new director of the TYA graduate program (formerly named “Youth Theatre”). One of our students directed me to your blog and I’m so happy to respond. Since I’m relatively new to the program as an instructor, I will provide some general information on our program here and then do some research on your other questions.

I’ve attached a recent advertisement for our TYA program that should be going in to ArtSearch soon along with a simple program description from our website. There are several specialties that students may choose from in our TYA program, including playwriting, directing, curriculum development, scenic design, and puppetry. In addition, UHM is known as THE PLACE to go for Asian Theatre training and many of our TYA folk dive into this training while they are here (in addition to TYA stuff).

Our department has just gone through a major website update.  Some things are still not quite in place.  However, that is probably a good place to start (GRADUATE REQUIREMENTS:; TYA: I can also put you in touch with several current TYA grad students who may be able to offer their perspectives on the program.

I think we have a very unique program and I’m very excited about the possibilities for future growth and improvement. Let me know how your search is going and I’ll start researching some of your questions!


Mark Branner
Director, TYA Graduate Program
(808) 956-2931


GRADUATE YOUTH THEATRE OPPORTUNITIES – UNIVERSITY OF HAWAIʼI-MANOA, Department of Theatre and Dance, seeks students for MFA training in TYA programs (Theatre for Young Audiences). Active, multi-cultural, theatre-training program provides exposure to, and opportunities to act/direct in multiple venues for: Western Theatre, Asian Theatre, TYA, and Dance. Assistantships, available to qualified students enrolled in program, pending availability of funds. Personalized program emphasizes hands-on training, varied performance and teaching opportunities, individualized mentoring with professionally active faculty, and performance opportunities with area theatres. For more program information visit: . Inquiries: contact Director of Youth Theatre, Mark Branner,; for applications: call 808-956-7677 or visit . Deadlines: 1/15/12 – for Fall 2012 admission; 8/1/12 – for Spring 2013 admission.


TYA • Theatre for Young Audiences
Cultivating Wonder
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, masks, clowning, and dance. TYA faculty have backgrounds in standards-based curriculum development, theatre for social change, dance, and circus arts and teach a variety of classes, including Puppetry, Masks & Giant Puppetry, Creative Drama, and Creative Dance. Within the flexible framework of the program, students can specialize in a wide variety of disciplines – acting, directing, playwriting, puppetry design, and more – all with the goal of capturing the imagination of young audiences.

Production Highlights
The TYA program celebrates the wonder of live performance by producing breathtaking performances for families and young audiences. Each year over thousands of children and young adults arrive at the doors of Kennedy Theatre to be ushered into magical worlds beyond. Graduate students have directed productions in the Earl Earnst Lab Theatre, organized performance tours to local schools, developed K-12 classroom residency programs, and more. 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 often filled with adventurous theatrical designs and styles – often combining elements of musical theatre, dance, puppets, masks, and Asian and Pacific theatre techniques.

What’s after Graduation?
Alumni of the TYA program work as faculty in such places as UCLA and the University of Malaysia; others teach in community colleges or high schools. Students have placed first in Disney’s ‘Imagineering Competition,’ served on the Jim Henson Foundation board, and worked as puppeteers on Sesame Street. Others have authored children’s books, directed programs for cruise lines and programmed children’s television (Pakistan). Graduates work as actors, writers, and directors in such professional theatres as HTY (Honolulu), Images (San Diego), and the Cleveland Play House (Ohio).

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