Honolulu Theatre for Youth (Honolulu, HI)


A kneeling young man cradles another young man, dressed as an ancient soldier, who is apparently dead

Louie Hung and Hermen Tesoro, Jr. in Honolulu Theatre for Youth's production of Dis/Troy by Yokanaan Kearns, based on The IliadPhoto by Brad Goda

Founded in 1955, the Honolulu Theatre for Youth (HTY) produces plays based on children's literature and the classics, as well as new work drawing on the history, folklore, and social issues of Hawaii. The company mounts eight youth-oriented shows each year, most often performing in non-traditional theater spaces, including school gymnasiums and cafeterias. For many of Hawaii's residents, especially those living on outlying islands, HTY provides the only access to live theater.

In FY 2004, HTY received an NEA Creativity grant of $25,000 to support a production of Dis/Troy, Yokanaan Kearns' adaptation of Homer's The Iliad. Commissioned by HTY artistic director Mark Lutwak, the play was first workshopped in 2002 at the Kennedy Center's New Visions/ New Voices Festival. In 2004, Dis/Troy toured to 42 intermediate and high schools on Hawaii's six major islands, serving more than 6,500 children. More than 1,000 people attended nine additional public performances held at venues around Honolulu. HTY also partnered with the Hawaii State Public Library System to present performances at libraries statewide to an additional 1,000 people.

In support of its productions, HTY publishes Second Stage Education Guides for classroom use by teachers. The guide for Dis/Troy included an essay by the playwright on adapting an epic poem for the stage, information on the historical basis of TheIliad, suggestions for classroom activities including a debate, and a guide to basic theater etiquette. As part of the company's education mission, actors from each play also engage with students in activities ranging from talk-back discussions to drama workshops exploring the content and themes of each particular show.

(From the 2004 NEA Annual Report)