WeeFestival of Theatre and Culture for Early Years
Announces its 2018 Programming
Celebrating the 3rd edition of this groundbreaking biennial festival, the WeeFestival will take place May 11-21, 2018. It is Toronto’s first contemporary arts festival for the very young and the second festival of its kind in Canada.
The upcoming festival features a balanced menu of international and Canadian work created especially for children 0-5 years including the premiere of two new works by local artists as well as works in development. Featured works include Mokofina (France), Knock! and Scoop, (South Africa), Ssst! (Germany), Cut Outs (Italy), Baking Time (Vancouver), Tweet (Toronto), Flying Hearts (Toronto), Mots de Jeu (Ottawa), Les choses berçantes/Sisters, the Warm Embrace (Quebec), and OGO (Quebec).
In addition to expanding the festival schedule from 7 to 10 days, the WeeFestival welcomes exciting new presenting and programming partnerships with leading arts organizations and cultural institutes passionate about the value of engaging and inspiring the children of today and nurturing the audiences and supporters of tomorrow. All tolled, the Festival will feature around 80 performances and events for the very young and their grownups!
From The WeeFestival’s Artistic Director, Lynda Hill:
I cannot wait to share the third edition of this pioneering festival with young children and families. Theatre for Early Years is a dynamic force of change within the field of theatre making and often includes a broad range of interdisciplinary work as well as music theatre, dance, installation/performance, puppetry, and object theatre. Performances take place in intimate spaces for small audiences to facilitate greater connection and more meaningful exchange between the artist and the child. This is not “4th wall theatre” and children are not expected to sit still and be quiet. In this way, the form and the exceptional artists behind it are at the vanguard of a new theatre that is de-formalized and more democratic. This is theatre of the future for the future.
WeeFestival’s presenting and programming partners include The Theatre Centre, Théâtre français de Toronto, the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM), The Goethe Institut-Toronto, and the Italian Cultural Institute. The WeeFestival also boasts a regional partner in Culture for Kids in the Arts (CKA), a Hamilton-based nonprofit organization, who will host 3 productions from the WeeFestival as part of Kinderfest, CKA’s annual theatre festival for the early years.
Venues for the festival include The Theatre Centre (festival HUB), Théâtre français de Toronto, Pia Bouman Scotiabank Theatre, Alumnae Theatre, Wychwood Theatre, Intergalactic Arts Collective in the Artscape Young Place, and the Canadian Music Centre. Additional venues hosting festival activities will be announced in the new year.
Festival Events and Community Engagement
A much-loved centrepiece of the Festival’s community programming has been the Children’s Story Garden, an interactive arts space that transforms the Theatre Centre’s Incubator into child and family-focused spaces open throughout the week.
This year, Artistic Director Lynda Hill has invited Indigenous artist Leslie Kachena McCue, from Curve Lake First Nation, to conceive and curate a week of Indigenous arts and learning-focused programming proudly titled Biinoojiinyag Gitgaanmiwaa for children and their families.
In addition to programming in the Children’s Garden, the Festival will offer an expanded range of activities offered by child-focused, community-based social and arts-based organizations including arts and music workshops, storytelling, visual arts exhibitions and the Festival’s Cozy Concert series.
The Little Paper is back as partner, creative collaborator and the proud Media Sponsor for the WeeFestival of Theatre and Culture for Early Childhood.
Once again the WeeFestival will host a Conference and Academic Symposium that will bring together artistic researchers, theatre artists, arts presenters, and educators over 4 days. The full conference programme will be announced along with the slate of speakers and workshop leaders, in the new year. This year the conference discussions will centre around Reconciliation, Inclusion, and Children’s Cultural Rights.
The WeeFestival launch also marks the official start of the Festival’s fundraising campaign designed to increase access for children in daycares, preschools, and kindergartens to attend their first theatre experience. Friends and Family Circle, Ticket Angels, and a variety of sponsorship and giving programs all help to keep tickets at a nominal level. The campaign received a significant boost with a $10,000 gift from Ben and Karen Varadi who’ve attended the festival since it was launched in 2014.
The WeeFestival is grateful for the generous support of The Department of Canadian Heritage through the Arts Presentation Canada Program, The Canada Council for the Arts, and the Ontario Arts Council as well as our many program partners and donors.
Theatre Direct Canada is grateful for the support provided by Government Arts Councils including the Ontario Arts Council, Canada Council for the Arts and Toronto Arts Council.