- Many of the performances do not rely on language to tell the story, instead they combine music, light, design and movement for a fully-accessible experience for all young children.
- The maximum audience size is extremely limited, as few as 16 spots in some cases and between 60 – 100 with other shows. This way every child can experience the magic of theatre up close!
- Most performances last between 30 and 45 minutes with time to explore and play afterwards.
- Every performance in the festival has played to young audiences around the world with great success. The performers are highly-trained and have extensive experience interacting with very young audiences.
- All participating venues in the festival are physically accessible. All festival staff are trained to ensure the most flexible, accommodating, and welcoming experience for every child, caregiver, and educator!
- Tickets are accessibly priced at a rate of $10 for schools and daycares, $15 for public performances or $25 for a parent/child ticket to our baby shows!
- All festival venues are breastfeeding friendly!
The festival launched in 2014 and welcomed close to 5000 children and their grown up guests. The first of its kind in Toronto and second only to Festival Petits Bonheurs in Montreal, the WeeFestival joined the international arts for early years movement and brought together leading artists and companies from around the world to Toronto for one week of performances for children 0-6 years. A total of 45 performances of 7 fantastic productions, 5 from international theatre companies. We welcomed 30 different school/daycare groups and reached over 100 artists and academics through The Right to Play Conference.
Theatre Direct would like to acknowledge the lands and waterways we gather on during WeeFestival. We hope you will help us in acknowledging and thanking all of the nations who have lived and cared for these lands in the past, those that are here today like me and you, and those who will continue to support the land in the future. Miigwech to the Mississaugas of New Credit, the Wendat, the Haudenosaunee Confederacy of Six Nations, and all other Nations recorded or unrecorded. Also thank you to the animals, the plants, the stars, moon, and sun, without all of that, we would not be here today so we are grateful, and to everything in creation for supporting us along this journey. Miigwech, thank you.
About Theatre Direct
Now, in its 42nd season, Theatre Direct Canada is one of the Country’s leading theatres for young audiences whose award-winning productions have reached audiences in schools and theatres across Canada and overseas. Theatre Direct’s work has been recognized with multiple Dora Mavor Moore Awards and nominations as well as 10 Chalmers Canadian Play Awards, and the Canada Council Theatre for Young Audiences Prize.
Milestone productions include And by the Way Miss…by the interdisciplinary collective URGE, the opera Sanctuary Song by Marjorie Chan and Abigail Richardson, Beneath the Banyan Tree by Emil Sher, and Binti’s Journey adapted by Marcia Johnson from the novel The Heaven Shop by Deborah Ellis.
In 2012, Theatre Direct initiated its Theatre for Early Years Project which included extensive residencies in kindergarten classrooms throughout Toronto schools, the development of an early years drama curriculum, and the creation of Old Man and the River a production especially for 3 -6 year olds which has since been seen by thousands of young children and their families. In 2014, the company launched the first biennial international children’s festival dedicated to early years with the WeeFestival of Theatre and Culture for Early Years which recently celebrated its 3rd edition in 2018.
In an effort to provide greater access for children with Autism and Developmental Disabilities, Theatre Direct and the WeeFestival recently premiered Flying Hearts combines dance, theatre and music in a sensory-rich and stimulating performance conceived of as an entirely inclusive , and Relaxed Performance experience.
- To create and present sophisticated and uncompromising theatre for, with, and by young people that empowers, educates and inspires.
- To present theatre that is socially-conscious, accessible, inclusive, and culturally diverse.
- To nurture our audience’s appreciation of the arts and each other through community and education based programs.
Our work is driven by a belief that young people deserve truth not diversion, that they have a right to meaningful cultural content and experiences. We view our audience as thinking, feeling, complex individuals-not a market, not future audiences, but emerging citizens that demands relevant theatre that engages all their faculties, feelings and intellect.
Our audience inspires us to tackle big questions in the same way children and youth ask them: honestly, directly, and, courageously.
We believe theatre for young audiences should utilize a range of traditional and non-traditional approaches to presentation and employ multiple disciplines including dance, music, opera, puppetry and design.
Meet the Theatre Direct Team