Lights, Camera, Action! Local Kids Theatre Programs

Kids Theatre
… building confidence for budding thespians
by  Allison Dempsey & Charlotte Ottaway

“All the world’s a stage” ~Shakespeare

The next time you find yourself telling your child to “stop being so dramatic,” maybe consider enrolling them in a theatre program instead, where they can emote to their heart’s content all while developing critical thinking skills, self-assurance and a sense of empowerment.

Theatre programs offer a variety of performance options, including, to name a few, musical theatre, acting for the camera, drama, Glee and show choir. Not only providing an incredible creative outlet, musical theatre and acting classes can help foster confidence, empathy and courage. For someone who’s shy or has anxiety about public speaking, acting and singing onstage can be truly terrifying. And that’s exactly why these programs can be hugely inspiring and beneficial in a number of ways.

There are numerous theatre programs and camps available in the area. Theatre Aurora focuses on strengthening acting skills, while also educating students on the more technical side of theatre – such as stage lighting and sound. This summer, Theatre Aurora is partnering with Broadway North—a youth theatre company based out of Newmarket—to offer a nine-day musical theatre camp coined The Trials of Alice in Wonderland.

The Aurora Cultural Centre is also offering a full day camp in July and August this summer called Swords and Stage, where campers will learn the ins and outs of stage fighting. This is the first year running this new day camp, a collaborative effort between the Cultural Centre and To Be Determined Theatre Company.

“We’re dedicated to providing enhanced arts, cultural and heritage activities to all of our citizens, including our young citizens,” says Jane Taylor, Acting Executive Director and Program, Event and Communications Manager at the Aurora Cultural Centre. “We want them to know there’s a place for belonging in the arts right within their own community.”

The week is filled with theatre games, activities, and rehearsals, in addition to basic fencing training and stage fight choreography. The kids are invited to choose a scene from one of their favourite movies—such as Star Wars or Pirates of the Caribbean—and learn the choreography to re-create that scene. They also make their own sets. “It’s a holistic approach to the drama experience,” says Taylor. At the end of the week, parents are invited in to watch the show.

Of course, theatre camp is about more than putting on a performance. It’s a chance for the kids to build confidence while ensuring they get to experience the numerous aspects of being on the stage firsthand. “It’s a very safe place to try new things because there’s no one set way to learn or deliver lines,” says Barb Jones, VP of Productions at Theatre Aurora. “The instructors and participants are all on the same page, willing to help you become the best you can be.”

Along with making friends and having a wonderful time, students learn the vital lessons of empathy and self-discipline. “They actually have to learn how to work with others,” says Jones. “There’s a sense of communication and cooperation they get out of these experiences, that they can take forward in life.”

Kids Theatre

Other positive qualities associated with participating in theatre programs include presentation and speaking skills, imagination, concentration and focus, physical fitness, self-discipline, communication skills and a sense of commitment. All while being creative and having fun.

“Part of the reason it’s so satisfying to work in the arts is that your own mastery is the level you should be reaching – the one that makes you feel happy, comfortable and expressive,” says Taylor. “These kinds of theatre experiences allow [children] to explore that part of themselves.”

By the end of the week, your child may end up accomplishing something they never thought possible. And really, what is more amazing than that?

If you’re looking for summer theatre camps, check these dates out:

The Trials of Alice in Wonderland,
Theatre Aurora:
JULY 4 to 14

Swords & Stage Full Day Camp,
Aurora Cultural Centre:
JULY 10 to 14
AUGUST 14 to 18

Disney’s Alice in Wonderland Jr.,
Marquee Theatrical Productions:
JULY 3 to 14
JULY 31 to AUGUST 11

The Adams Family Young Part,
Marquee Theatrical Productions:
JULY 17 to 28
AUGUST 14 to 25

The Best of Broadway,
Broadway North Youth Theatre:

The Best of Disney,
Broadway North Youth Theatre:
AUGUST 14 to 18

Local Links

Theatre Aurora, Aurora

Aurora Cultural Centre, Aurora

Marquee Theatrical Productions, Aurora

Broadway North Youth Theatre, Newmarket

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