Stage Door News
Toronto: Young People’s Theatre announces its 2023/24 season
Wednesday, May 24, 2023
Embarking on its 58th season, Young People’s Theatre (YPT) embraces the powerful sense of community – of experiencing a story together – that only live theatre can bring. The 7-play season launches two world premieres with Kanika Ambrose’s Truth, based on the Governor General's Award-winning book “The Gospel Truth”, and The Fixing Girl from celebrated UK playwright Kevin Dyer. A holiday favourite takes centre stage as a vintage 1940’s radio broadcast with It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play, directed by YPT Artistic Director Herbie Barnes. YPT’s youngest audiences will delight in stories that come from across Canada. And improv adventures await with the season finale, Unwritten: The Improv Show, directed by Barnes.
“When young people come to theatre – in fact, when anyone comes to theatre – a strange and wonderful thing happens,” says Herbie Barnes. “They live a collective experience. They experience the same thing at the same time. Studies show that even our hearts begin to beat at the same rate. Our breathing becomes syncopated. As we look ahead to next season across our stages and education studios, we celebrate a collective coming together – in one heartbeat.”
The season opens in October with Carousel Players’ Pop! Pop!, a playful production designed for our youngest audiences. In this dynamic underwater adventure, two puppets play hide and seek as they discover an exciting new world. Next, YPT welcomes Vancouver’s Axis Theatre and its traditional Kwantlen First Nations tale, Th’owxiya: The Hungry Feast Dish. After stealing cheese from a hungry ogress, a sly mouse takes audiences on a captivating journey as they scheme to appease the angry spirit.
This holiday season, It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play will transport audiences to Bedford Falls and into the beloved story of George Bailey. An ensemble cast of five retells this classic as a 1940’s broadcast with patrons as the live studio audience. Each actor doubles as an on-stage foley artist, creating a playful acoustic backdrop of sound effects and festive jingles in this seasonal favourite.
YPT’s New Play Development program unveils two world premieres. Award-winning actor and director Sabryn Rock (CBC’s The Porter, HBO Max’s Station Eleven) directs Truth – the powerful stage adaptation of “The Gospel Truth”, in which the life of a young Black girl living on a Virginia plantation is altered forever with the arrival of a stranger from the north. In The Fixing Girl, a young girl retreats to the shed where she and her Grandad fix broken things in this moving depiction of coming to terms with grief and loss, directed by YPT Associate Artistic Director, Stephen Colella.
This March Break, Quebec’s Bouge de là brings its dynamic dance piece Through My Eyes, directed by Hélène Langevin, to the Ada Slaight Stage. Four dancers play together and discover a spectacular topsy-turvy playground. Full of surprises, this stimulating experience invites audiences to see the world afresh through the eyes of an exploring child. The fun-filled season finale, Unwritten: The Improv Show, is guided by three professional improv artists and inspired by full audience participation – leading to hilarious and unexpected outcomes.
YPT’s Drama School offers year-round programming for toddlers to teens of all abilities and levels. This season, the Drama School is re-imagined for an even more immersive experience, offering students two 12-week sessions. At the end of each session, students will take to a YPT stage to perform for friends and family. Plus, new this season is Scene Study and Performance Skills, a class designed to take students on a journey exploring a professional play, from script to performing scenes. Classes take place at YPT’s brand new education centre, YPT 161 Studios, as well as Etobicoke’s Assembly Hall. Registration opens June 8.
YPT’s wide range of educational experiences for schools and community groups include Play Companion Workshops (subsidized options available), the Member Schools program, and the Indigenous Artists in Schools program. Indigenous artist educators, rooted in their own arts practices, cultural knowledge and experience, will facilitate workshops for students and educators to continue their lifelong learning about Indigenous people and customs.
Tickets and packages for the 2023.24 Season are now on sale, with Early Bird pricing available for a limited time for both the public and schools. Tickets can be purchased online at youngpeoplestheatre.org.
Proudly supported by The Slaight Family Foundation as Lead Donor and
BMO as Season Presenting Sponsor.
POP! POP! | HIDE AND SEEK ADVENTURE
A Carousel Players Production
By Linda A. Carson, with Monica Dufault and Kim Selody
Directed by Monica Dufault
STUDIO • Oct. 14 – 22, 2023 • Recommended for Ages 2-5 | Pre-School-SK
In this colourful underwater adventure, two very different creatures, “Hide” and “Seek”, explore a playfully enchanting new world. Together, the dynamic duo discover uncharted territory – and each other – as fun surprises pop up along the way! Featuring live music and puppetry, this sensory-rich production from Carousel Players is a lively experience for our young audiences and their caregivers.
TH’OWXIYA: THE HUNGRY FEAST DISH | TRADITIONAL TALE
An Axis Theatre Production
Written by Joseph A. Dandurand
Directed by Chris MacGregor
ADA SLAIGHT STAGE • Oct. 28 – Nov. 6, 2023 • Recommended for Ages 5-8 | SK-Gr. 3
This Kwantlen First Nations legend follows a cheese-stealing mouse (Kw’at’el) who must find and offer two children to the hungry ogress Th’owxiya, to make amends for a theft. With the help of Raven (Sqeweqs), Bear (Spa:th) and Sasquatch (Sasq’ets), the sly mouse embarks on a journey to trick the angry spirit and save their family from becoming the ogre’s next feast! Come and experience traditional Coast Salish and Sto:lo music, masks and imagery in this beautiful, multi-award-winning tale from Vancouver’s Axis Theatre.
IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE: A LIVE RADIO PLAY | RING IN THE HOLIDAYS!
Adapted by Joe Landry
Based on the story "The Greatest Gift" by Philip Van Doren Sterns from the screenplay by Frances Goodrich, Albert Hackett, Franks Capra and Jo Swerling
Directed by Herbie Barnes
ADA SLAIGHT STAGE • Nov. 20 – Dec. 30, 2023 • Recommended for Ages 10+ | Gr. 5+
This holiday season, transport yourself to 1945 Bedford Falls with a beloved classic! The story of George Bailey comes to life in this live 1940’s radio play adaptation. An ensemble cast of five retells the story as a radio broadcast where you become the live studio audience! Watch as each actor doubles as a foley artist, creating a playful acoustic backdrop of sound effects and festive jingles.
It’s a snowy Christmas Eve and George is struggling with an unfulfilled life of big dreams and even bigger disappointments. A lovable guardian angel by the name of Clarence appears and takes George under his wing, revealing what life might have looked like without him in it. In the true spirit of the holidays, George is reminded how precious life is, and the value of family, community and love.
TRUTH | WORLD PREMIERE
By Kanika Ambrose
Based on the novel “The Gospel Truth” by Caroline Pignat
Directed by Sabryn Rock
ADA SLAIGHT STAGE • Jan. 29 – Feb. 23, 2024 • Recommended for Ages 10+ | Gr. 5+
It’s 1858 on a Virginian tobacco plantation. Deep in a forest, a young Black girl named Phoebe sits in the hollow of a tree, a notebook in her pocket and a harrowing choice ahead. Truth is adapted from the Governor General’s Award-winning novel “The Gospel Truth”, and tells the story of a courageous 16-year-old, the arrival of a stranger from the north, and a trail of secrets that could change everything. From the American South to St. Catharines, Ontario, Truth chronicles the fierce strength and resilience of a community as it struggles to find freedom.
THROUGH MY EYES | MARCH BREAK FUN
Created, directed and co-choreographed by Hélène Langevin
Produced by Bouge de là
ADA SLAIGHT STAGE • Mar. 4 – 17, 2024 • Recommended for Ages 4-7 | JK-Gr. 2
Immerse yourself in Through My Eyes – a vivid world of dance, colour, sounds, textures, forms and illusions. In a spectacular topsy-turvy playground, four dancers play together and discover a constantly shifting wonderland. Full of surprises, this stimulating dance piece from Quebec’s Bouge de là invites audiences to see the world afresh through the eyes of an exploring child.
THE FIXING GIRL | WORLD PREMIERE
By Kevin Dyer
Directed by Stephen Colella
ADA SLAIGHT STAGE • Apr. 15 – May 2, 2024 • Recommended for Ages 8-13 | Gr. 3-8
From celebrated UK playwright Kevin Dyer comes the world premiere of The Fixing Girl. Mum is lost in her own thoughts and it’s making Meghan’s horrible day even worse. So Megs retreats to the backyard shed where she and Grandad have always fixed broken things. It’s there that she hopes to find the answer to feeling better – but instead finds only more questions. Can something that’s broken become whole again? Tender and uplifting, The Fixing Girl tells the heartfelt story of a young girl coming to terms with loss and grief.
UNWRITTEN: THE IMPROV SHOW | DELIGHTFULLY UNEXPECTED!
Directed by Herbie Barnes
ADA SLAIGHT STAGE • May 7 – 16, 2024 • Recommended for Ages 11+ | Gr. 6+
Unscripted, unrehearsed – and unbelievably fun! Unwritten is pure in-the-moment improvisation, inspired by full audience participation. With a guided and thoughtful approach, three professional improv artists lead this interactive mash up, spurred by asking kids what’s on their minds and turning it into an impromptu adventure. It’s a hilarious volley of ideas and spontaneous exchanges both exhilarating – and unexpected!
For more information, visit youngpeoplestheatre.org.