Presenting musical theatre in 14 elementary schools this month
CHARLOTTETOWN – Most Islanders are used to trekking to downtown Charlottetown and searching for parking in order to take in a show at Confederation Centre. This month, the School of Performing Arts, a partnership of Confederation Centre and Holland College, is doing just the opposite, touring to 14 elementary schools from Tignish to Murray River.
© Fraser McCallum
School of Performing Arts students, from left, Kaitlyn Post, Becca Griffin, Puddy Banks, Sarah Bruce, and Robyn Veinot perform an excerpt from “Pigs” – part of a medley of Robert Munsch tales being performed in 14 Island elementary schools over the next 10 days.
A cast of nine second-year performance arts students are hitting the road, presenting a medley of Robert Munsch stories – “Pigs,” “The Paperbag Princess,” and “Mud Puddle” – to a total of 1,700 children over 10 days.
“This project is a celebration of imagination – it’s about making theatre accessible for Island school children,” says director-instructor, Jody Racicot. “It is the culmination of a 12-week course, Theatre for Young Audiences. The students are synthesizing all of their training – technical, dance, vocal, and acting – into one very concentrated performance.”
For second-year student Sarah MacPhee, the most inspiring part is that the project reaches the most rural areas of P.E.I., where students may not have the opportunity to visit the centre and could be experiencing live theatre for the first time.
“Our idea is to inspire them to take interest and go home and create this type of theatre themselves,” she explains. “Getting to share Robert Munsch with this generation is really exciting as we grew up with it, and it remains very relevant for kids these days.”
The students began by adapting the Munsch children’s books into dialogue and vignettes, adding in short songs and dance with the help of choreographers Amy Shelton and Julia Sauvé. The students even attended a recent performance of “Dora the Explorer” at the Centre as research, and held a talkback with the company’s cast afterwards.
For student Kristena MacCormack, this project is an opportunity to have input in all aspects of a production.
“We’ve done the props, costumes, stage management –everything. It is a great chance to come together and represent both our program and the centre across the Island.”
The Theatre for Young Audiences tour began Wednesday with shows in Hunter River and Borden-Carleton and concludes on Dec. 19 in West Royalty. The tour is presented free of charge to all participating schools.
“I’m looking forward to the real world challenge that this represents,” states Racicot. “Every day, a few hundred little kids from grades K to 3 will be expecting entertainment and will accept no excuses. It is a great project for the centre to be supporting. Children’s theatre is very important, and can really affect change.”
A partnership between Confederation Centre and Holland College, the School of Performing Arts offers aspiring performers two-year diploma programs in Performing Arts, Dance Performance, and Contemporary Music Performance. For more information, visit confederationcentre.com/en/school-of-performing-arts.php.