Theatre lecturer earns Excellence in Education Award

Theatre lecturer Taurie Kinoshita – Courtesy of Nicolas Logue

Taurie Kinoshita, long-time theatre lecturer, is a big part of WCC’s success in the performing arts, bringing experience and professional credentials to Palikū Theatre’s student productions.

Now she’s bringing the campus national attention by winning the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival Excellence in Education Award.

“We do the work we do, because we love our students, not for recognition,” Kinoshita said.

Kinoshita is no stranger to awards. She earned the Lucie Bently Award for Excellence in Acting, the Inouye Award for Excellence in Playwriting and several Hawai‘i State Theatre Council Awards for directing. The Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival is now honoring her for her outstanding work with student actors and her impact on their future careers.

Kinoshita’s professional work as a director with more than 90 credits in New York, London and Honolulu has earned her many laurels and critical acclaim. But she is proudest of her students’ achievements–most recently Brandon DiPaola’s acceptance to the highly competitive East 15 Acting School (where Kinoshita was a lecturer for three years).

“Taurie was the first person outside of my immediate family who ever believed in my ability to achieve something, and I’ll always be indebted to her for that,” diPaola said.

Other past students, many of whom have reached high levels in the industry, also recall working with her fondly.

Callum McGowan, a noted producer and actor in film and television both in the U.K. and U.S., said:  “Her infectious energy, her tenacity, her dedication is beyond compare. I mean she works the most mental hours, but she does it all for her students, putting her own work to the bottom of the pile. She did it and still does it for me, and I’m on the other side of the Atlantic, for goodness sake. There’s no style, no substance without passion, and Taurie has bucket loads. On top of that, she’s hilarious, she’s incredibly warm and at times far, far too giving. She suffers rehearsal after rehearsal to get the best out of her students.”

Andrew MacPherson, a rising star playwright Kinoshita instructed for two years in London, said: “Taurie is without doubt one of the most intelligent, passionate and caring teachers. She manages to foster a unique rapport with each and every student and by some force of magic, makes them want to work faster, smarter and harder than they knew they could. It’s clear why stories of her work still echo down the halls of East 15 Acting School.”

Vi Johnson, a.k.a. Lilly SnatchDragon and the #1 in Top 20 Burlesque Performers in the U.K., considers being directed and taught by Kinoshita “a life changing experience.“

“She doesn’t just think outside the box–she rips the whole damn thing apart and gives you a new view on theatre and performance,” Johnson said. “Taurie once said to me: ‘I’m a woman in a drag queen’s body’ … and I thought, when I graduate, I want to be just like Taurie. Now I am, and I hope I’m doing my Drag Mama proud.”

I have also been deeply affected by Kinoshita’s mentorship. It was under her guidance that I penned Demigods Anonymous, an original play, which premieres at Kumu Kahua Theatre in March. Kinoshita urged me to write the play and mentored me relentlessly through the process, all of which helped me work through a serious identity crisis, launched my writing career, and literally saved my life.

She has impacted hundreds of students, many who have gone on to pursue their dreams. Her Excellence in Education Award is well deserved.

by Noa Helela, Special to Ka ‘Ohana