Theatre programs offered for families

The Montreal Children's Theatre has various activities for people of all ages as well as those with special needs

Theatre programs offered for families

Photo credit: Montreal Children’s Theatre

The Montreal Children’s Theatre has launched its spring and summer programs. Founded in 1933, this Theatre/Performance Arts School in N.D.G. offers courses and programs in music and theatre for kids of all ages, as well as their parents and grandparents.

Owner Sandra Holder says the theatre was created not only for families to have something to do together, but especially for the kids to have an outlet to express themselves and build their self-confidence.

As their mission statement affirms: “The goal of The Children’s Theatre is to give each child the space in which to realize their potential. For some this means building the self-confidence to ‘come out of one’s shell.’  For everyone it is a place where they can express themselves, learn about emotions and build understanding of themselves, others, and the world around them. We want each child to realize their individual strengths and learn about how to work with others in a team, by listening and interacting in a way only theatre can teach.”

The school offers year-round drama, acting and musical theatre classes for kids up to 17 years old. For those 8 and older, there are also courses that teach kids to tell a story using music, dialogue and other sound effects.

Families can take part in online program with their grandparents where they create a play written for radio. “All of the sound effects are produced by the children and seniors,” Holder says. “The music is chosen by them, so every footstep, waterfall or sound of the wind are made using something created by the students. They tell the story with the sound effects.”

Another activity offered during the spring/Easter season is a scavenger hunt, where families can get together and look for clues hidden in various locations and businesses within the community. This is a good way, Holder says, to support local businesses as participants learn about and meet the owners. Winners of the scavenger hunt can win gift cards to some of the businesses.

In its Starlight Players specialized program for those with special needs, kids, as well as young adults take part in theatre, dance and music classes. Holder says this program gives participants a way to socialize outside of school. “Through drama, they’re able to learn such things like self-expression and to socialize without fear,” she said.

The spring session will run for eight weeks from May 1 to June 26. This particular session is geared to those 18 and over who have autism. While dance and music are not a part of this short spring program for Starlight, participants will learn different parts of theatre and take part in improv classes. The classes will be every Wednesday from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturday from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. Depending on pandemic restrictions, classes will either be in person or on Zoom. The session costs $375 and will be capped at 16 students on a first come, first serve basis. To register, click here. Classes will be offered in English and no acting experience is necessary.

Drama therapist and teacher Erica Sweett says it is especially important to offer classes to this age group. “There are not many options for socialization as there were when they were younger,” she says. “So, we’re trying to fill that gap.  [After they’re done school] some people get jobs, but there’s nothing to do on their time off.”

Summer camp for kids

Additionally, the Montreal Children’s Theatre is offering a summer camp for kids aged 5 to 16 from Aug. 2 to Aug. 20. The kids will be grouped together by age and take part in dance workshops, puppet building, acting or storytelling, and learn about set design and costume creation. Other activities include outings to a water park and yoga classes.

The camp hours are from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and costs $825. It is suggested that the kids participate in the entire three-week camp, but parents can sign them up for only two weeks as well. For more information,  click here.

For more information, visit montrealchildrenstheatre.ca.