Theatre for Young Audiences Program
The TYA program encourages the development and pursuit of imagination and 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, directing, dance, and circus arts and teach a variety of classes, including Puppetry, Masks & Giant Puppets, Creative Drama, and Creative Dance. Within the flexible framework of the program, students can specialize in a wide variety of disciplines, acting, curriculum, design, directing, playwriting, and puppetry, all with the goal of capturing the imagination of young audiences.
Production HighlightsThe TYA program celebrates the exhilaration of live performance by producing breathtaking performances for families and young audiences. Each year 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 Ernst 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 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 cruiselines, 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).
TYA Should Be...
On the Stage
Dedicated not only to the study and theory of TYA but to its practice as well, the program honors the wonder of live performance by producing excellent performances for young audiences and their families. We reject a diminutive notion of 'children's theatre' as a lighter, lessor, 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. As "great children's books are also great books," great theatrical performances for children are simply great theatrical performances, full-stop.
In the Classroom
We are all teachers. 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 believe that of all human qualities, perhaps none is more important than the imagination. Through theatre "we learn both who we are and what may be." Thus, the essential nature of theatrical practice - on the stage and in the classroom - i s profoundly educational.
To Our World
We believe that theatre is not only a source of delight for human flourishing, but it can also 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 explore the practices contained under the umbrella term 'applied theatre.' Students in the program should ask not only “what their degree can do for them" but also "what their degree can do for their world." We affirm that "theatre can help us build our future, rather than just waiting for it.”