FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 17, 2014
Theatre Direct 416-537-4193
Theatre Direct Announces Inaugural WeeFestival of Theatre and Culture for Early Years
Theatre Direct, a leading creator and innovator in theatre for young audiences, has announced plans to launch a festival entirely dedicated to engaging the very youngest of their young audiences – children 0 – 6 years!
From May 12 – 19, 2014, The WeeFestival will feature small-scale productions by acclaimed companies specializing in theatre for the very young from Italy, Spain, Portugal, Germany and Quebec, and Ontario.
Whether it is a stimulating journey through colours and the senses performed for babies and toddlers (In Black & White, a Yellow Line – Teatro do Biombo, Portugal), a playful procrastination for toddlers Bedtime -Theatre Katarsis, Spain), or a rambunctious romp through the world of plastic bag creatures for kindergarteners (Plastique – Puzzle Theatre-Bulgaria/Quebec), each show has been created with the emotional and social developmental needs and interests of young children.
Other featured productions for under 5’s include H2O, a breathtaking performance installation from Germany’s Helios Theatre, the English premiers of The Boat and the Moon from La Baracca Testoni Ragazzi, Italy and Flots, tout ce qui brille voit/Waves, all that Glows Sees an enchanting encounter with the beauty of the sea from Le Théâtre des Confettis, Quebec. Finally, Theatre Direct proudly showcases its own contribution to the international line-up with the premier of Old Man and the River, a new puppetry work for ages 3-5, created by Lynda Hill and Thomas Morgan Jones.
In addition to engaging theatre productions, the festival will offer a range of multi-disciplinary programming designed to engage little ones and their parents including music, dance, and literary events over the long weekend. Other activities include workshops and roundtables for parents, educators and artists throughout the week.
Venues for the festival include Tarragon Theatre’s Extra Space and studios, the new cultural centre at the Alliance Française de Toronto, the Helen Gardiner Phelan Playhouse and the Artscape Wychwood Barns, home of Theatre Direct’s Wychwood Theatre. Additional venues hosting festival activities will be announced later.
Children from local daycares, preschools and kindergartens surrounding the venues will attend performances over the week from May 12 – 15 with public performances for families taking place over the Victoria Day long weekend from May 16 – 18.
The Festival will close May 19th with a full day of activities for the whole community throughout the Artscape Wychwood Barns and surrounding park. Special events will include Ubuntu/All Together, a family dance celebration led by Lua Shayanne, a literary picnic in the Children’s Book Garden, and The Festival Stage featuring some of Toronto’s top music and dance artists.
Over the week, academic researchers, educators, arts funders, policy makers, artists, producers and presenters will engage in discussion around the practical and theoretical aspects of theatre and arts for early years. Conference hosts and sponsors include The University of Toronto and The Centre for Drama Studies, Tarragon Theatre, and the Ontario Arts Council.
The conference Keynote address will be delivered by Valeria Frabetti, Artistic Director of La Baracca Testoni Ragazzi, the theatre spearheading the European Small Size Network and the creation of the Charter of Children’s Rights to Art and Culture.
Lynda Hill, Artistic Director of Theatre Direct says: “The WeeFestival comes at a perfect time where there is growing awareness around the importance of providing the best start for our children. We believe that participation in arts and cultural experiences can contribute positively to a child’s overall well-being and that of their families. We are excited to share these beautiful and engaging performances with the very youngest of our audiences!”
Theatre Direct is pleased to have the generous support of the following cultural partners as co-presenters, Alliance Française de Toronto for Puzzle Théâtre’s production of Plastique; Istituto Italiano di Cultura for La Baracca Testoni Ragazzi’s production of The Boat and the Moon; and CAMÕES, IP for Teatro do Biombo’s production of In Black and White, a Yellow Line with the sponsorship of SATA Airlines.
Theatre Direct is grateful for the support of the Department of Canadian Heritage and the Arts Presentation Canada program for the generous support of this inaugural festival.
The Little Paper is the Print Media Sponsor for the WeeFestival of Theatre and Culture for Early Childhood.
Additional arts funding to Theatre Direct is received from our Government Arts Councils: The Ontario Arts Council, The Canada Council, the Toronto Arts Council, and our annual corporate supporters TD Bank Financial Group and CIBC Children’s Foundation.