After peeking into a wedding ceremony underway at the Cathedral of St. Andrew, my travel pal Marilyn and I wandered around the grounds which are close to the Iolani Palace in Honolulu. Though inaccurate to describe St. Andrew’s grounds as a cathedral close , the Hawaiian-Anglican-Episcopal cathedral certainly pays homage to the mother-country’s ecclesiastical architecture. Squint away the palm trees and this might be Sussex.
We stopped to chat with drivers of grossly stretched white Jeep limousines. The drivers killed time with their mobile phones while waiting for one wedding to end and the next to start. Brides and their attendants posed for photographs against the backdrop of a fountain and foliage. We walked around the bishop’s office, admired the stained glass windows in a chapel and, turning a corner, noticed a theater marquee.
The Honolulu Theater for Youth staff were rearranging stage elements in a large auditorium. We asked a statuesque young man near the door if we could look around. Eric West — “Make sure you write ‘West’ because we have several colleagues named Eric, including the Director.” — explained that he handles multiple logistical problems like how to build and install sturdy stage elements and design portable sets for new productions. The troupe is based at St. Andrew’s and performs in schools throughout Hawaii, he explained, so the traveling productions need lightweight sets.
He told us that a previous Dean of the cathedral bequeathed the auditorium now the headquarters for the Honolulu Theater for Youth. Why don’t more churches loan or convert space to service active educational and cultural projects?
The group performs on O‘ahu at Tenney Theatre at the Cathedral of St. Andrew in Honolulu and travels throughout the state to various performance spaces as well as school classrooms. Creative workshops are also offered.
Productions include educational elements, like local food policy in Grinds, the Story of Food in Hawai’i. Grinds is the Aloha Islands word for good food. The Tiny Tree explores themes of cooperation, helping others and celebrating cultural differences.
Performances cost $6 per student. Several discount programs are offered for groups, children receiving free and reduced lunches. Teachers and required assistants are admitted at no charge with the group. Those who can pay are encouraged to do so, to help meet production costs.