Paul Cravath was a highly inspirational and talented drama professor at Leeward Community College for 36 years before retiring in 2011. His innovative curriculum, disciplined approach to acting, and ability to hone talent served his students well as many went on to have successful careers in the entertainment industry. He was also committed to providing his students with life skills that would prove valuable in their careers and personal lives.
Cravath passed away on December 23, 2020, at his home in Silver City, New Mexico, at the age of 76.
His development of the Hawaiian style theatre course inspired students to research locally sourced materials and collaborate on scripts to be performed either on the main stage or in the lab theatre. Cravath selected themes relating to the geographic region surrounding Leeward CC, including culturally relevant issues and regional mythological origin stories.
Former Windward CC Chancellor Doug Dykstra, Cravath’s colleague for many years, recalled an instance where the Hawaiian Style Theatre made an impact on students, parents and teachers from Pearl City High School (PCHS).
“Our collaboration with the PCHS Humanities Learning Center, through a grant from the Hawaiʻi Council for the Humanities (HCH), allowed the PCHS teachers and students to gather a collection of oral history documents preserving the history of Pearl City’s pre-World War II community,” Dykstra said. “These transcripts were interpreted in the HCH publication entitled “Moʻolelo o Manana” by Sheila Nonaka Ellis. Paul’s students used this publication, and the original transcripts, as source material for their highly successful staging of For ʻEwa at the Leeward Theatre. Students, parents and teachers from PCHS were thrilled by this stage play that resonated in such a meaningful way.”
For ʻEwa was just one example of Cravath’s masterful staging. His innovative and creative approach to his craft was reinforced by his intensity in bringing out the best from his student thespians.
—By Tad Saiki