They call her Madame Director

Theater instructor Taurie Kinoshita is committed to her students’ success – Cynthia Lee Sinclair
Theater instructor Taurie Kinoshita is committed to her students’ success – Cynthia Lee Sinclair

“Theater is the most beautiful thing in the world to me,” said WCC theater instructor Taurie Kinoshita. “It is the only art form which encompasses all art forms: music, dance, literature, poetry, 2D visual art and composition, design, use of line and color, 3D visual art/architecture, use of bodies in space. All of these forms are used by and needed for theater.”

Kinoshita was raised in Honolulu but lived in England from 2008-2012 and taught at the East 15 Acting School at the University of Essex, one of the top three acting conservatories in the United Kingdom.

She has directed 70 critically acclaimed productions in New York City, London and Honolulu. She worked with The Living Theatre in New York and has participated in more than 100 shows.

She holds a master of fine art in directing Western theater from UH Mānoa. Her awards over the years include The Lucie Bentley Award for Excellence in Acting, The Inouye Award for Excellence in Playwriting, one Po‘okela for ensemble acting and two Po‘okelas for directing.

When not at WCC, Kinoshita can be found teaching at the University of Phoenix or chairing the play development committee for Kumu Kahua Theatre in Honolulu.

Despite her vast experience, she revealed that she sometimes hates directing because of the overwhelming amount of work involved. One of her only reasons for directing at this point, she says, is so she can give opportunities to students.

Her shows are made up entirely of students from the Theater 260 class. WCC is the only college on O‘ahu that guarantees that all three theater department shows each year have all-student casts.

She says she is proud that her students “are kicking butt and taking names.”

Ka‘ainoa Fernandez, a former student, says, “If you take one of her classes you will learn a lot and thoroughly enjoy yourself while doing it. This class is beneficial even if you aren’t going to pursue an acting career.”

According to Kinoshita, most directors cast their shows based on seeing someone in a show, not on the audition. Therefore, casting students in shows in and out of school gives them the best chance of getting work.

Kinoshita delights in directing shows that are enlightening or educational and that serve the community. She loves the Kumu Kahua Theatre because it’s the only theater in the world doing plays by, for and about the people of Hawai’i.

“I think art must respond to the needs of the society of its time,” she says. “Therefore since our society is inundated with escapist entertainment, ethically responsible artists should seek to enlighten, educate and illuminate, in an entertaining manner … I find theater which is only entertaining, and not also enlightening, morally questionable.”

Unlike many directors, Kinoshita prefers to watch the audience response more than the action on the stage. This is how she judges the effectiveness of the show and where changes may need to be made to make it better.

“If we have people in tears every night or they gain a new perspective, a new insight, or they take positive actions, or even just take time to think and consider their lives, this is what I love about making theater.”

This semester Kinoshita is directing the evocative play “Roberto Zucco” translated by Martin Crimp. The show will open at Palikū Theatre on March 11 at 8 p.m. Other show dates and times are March 12 at 8 p.m., March 13 at 4 p.m., March 17 at 5 p.m. and 8 p.m., March 18 at 8 p.m., March 19 at 8 p.m. and March 20 at 4 p.m.


Taurie’s Super Nerdy Tips For School, Life and Work, Learned from Theater


  • Plan for the worst, hope for the best
  • Be early
  • Working in groups and getting it done
  • Don’t take stupid chances
  • Confidence
  • Memorizing
  • Choices
  • Taking criticism
  • Attendance
  • Do as much as you can now
  • Keep learning
  • Be fearless
  • Communication
  • Think critically
  • The right resume
  • Adapt
  • Perception
  • Avoid logical fallacies


by Cynthia Lee Sinclair, Ka ‘Ohana Staff Reporter