Stage Door News
Toronto: Young People’s Theatre announces its 2023/24 season
Thursday, September 14, 2023
Young People’s Theatre (YPT) throws open its doors this fall to stages and spaces brimming with a 7-show playbill, a newly re-imagined Drama School experience, and a brand new Indigenous workshop series led by YPT Artistic Director Herbie Barnes. Canada’s largest theatre complex for young people, YPT now spans both its historic theatre and a newly opened educational facility, offering year-round theatre programming for toddlers to teens in big, bright spaces.
This October, YPT brings the colourful underwater adventure Pop! Pop! from Carousel Players to the YPT Studio (Oct. 14-22). This playful production, featuring live music and puppetry, is designed for the theatre’s youngest audiences, ages 2-5. From the West Coast, YPT welcomes Vancouver’s Axis Theatre to the Ada Slaight Stage with its traditional Kwantlen First Nations tale, Th’owxiya: The Hungry Feast Dish (Oct. 28 – Nov. 6). In this beautiful, multi- award-winning tale, audiences will experience traditional Coast Salish and Sto:lo music, masks and imagery.
YPT Artistic Director Herbie Barnes continues to incorporate Indigeneity into the theatre’s programming, both on and off the stage. This fall, YPT announces the return of its in-demand Indigenous Artists in Schools program with a brand new workshop facilitated by Barnes – “Inquiry into Indigeneity – Creating Conversation”. In this workshop for schools, Barnes shares who he is as an Indigenous artist and encourages students to join him in exploring the First Peoples of Canada. Students in grades 2-6 will also learn about the Seven Ancestral Teachings of the Anishinaabe, the Creation Story, as well as the importance and meaning behind Land Acknowledgements.
“The more we can share with our young people about the past and about cultures outside of their own, the better we are prepared for the future,” says Barnes. “We are seeing change coming and these workshops will help to guide that change in a positive way.”
YPT kicks off the holiday season with its production of It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play – adapted into a vintage 1940’s radio broadcast. An ensemble cast of five retells the beloved story of George Bailey as a radio broadcast where viewers become the live studio audience. It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play is on stage Nov. 20 - Dec. 30 and is recommended for ages 10 and up.
The new year sees the world premiere of Kanika Ambrose’s Truth, based on the Governor General's Award-winning book “The Gospel Truth” by Caroline Pignat, and a March Break presentation of Bouge de là’s dynamic dance piece Through My Eyes. YPT is thrilled to announce that coming to the Ada Slaight Stage in April 2024 is renowned actor, comedian and star of CTV’s Corner Gas, Eric Peterson. A Governor General's Performing Arts Award recipient, Peterson will perform in the world premiere of The Fixing Girl by celebrated UK playwright Kevin Dyer, alongside Zoé Doyle and Eponine Lee. YPT’s season finale is the delightfully unexpected Unwritten: The Improv Show, directed by Barnes.
Now entering its 55th year, YPT’s Drama School begins Sept. 23, with programs for toddlers to teens. New this year, the Drama School is re-imagined for an even more immersive experience, offering students two 12-week sessions (Session 1: September – December | Session 2: February/March – June). YPT’s popular Toddler Drama Time returns on Saturday mornings. Created for ages 18 to 30 months, participants and their caregivers will sing songs, dance, read stories, play, explore and connect with other families. New this season is Scene Study and Performance Skills, a class designed to take students on a journey exploring a professional play. Classes take place at YPT’s education centre, YPT 161 Studios, as well as Etobicoke’s Assembly Hall. Registration for winter/spring classes is also open.
Tickets for the 2023.24 Season, including YPT’s Flex Pack (Buy 3 or MORE shows and SAVE 15%) can be purchased online at youngpeoplestheatre.org.
✦ 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 McGregor
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 Stern
from the screenplay by Frances Goodrich, Albert Hackett, Frank 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.
Featuring Caitlyn MacInnis, Amy Matysio, Shaquille Pottinger, Anand Rajaram and Cliff Saunders.
✦ 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.
Featuring Wade Bogert-O'Brien, Jasmine Case, Dante Jemmott, Dominique LeBlanc, Jeff Miller, Kim Nelson and Micah Woods.
✦ 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.
Featuring Zoé Doyle, Eponine Lee and Eric Peterson.
✦ 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.