Theatre and Culture for Early Years       May 11 – 21, 2018        Donate Now Through CanadaHelps.org!

About

Out of a passionate belief that children in their early years of development should be exposed to aesthetically-rich and stimulating arts  experiences Lynda Hill, Artistic & Executive Director of Theatre Direct conceived the WeeFestival of Theatre and Culture for Early Years. The festival launched in 2014,and now returns for its third instalment with an exciting line-up of events and performances from internationally celebrated artists. From May 11 – 21, 2018, the WeeFestival will feature productions by acclaimed companies specializing in theatre for the very young from South Africa, ItalyGermany, France, Quebec, and Ontario. Whether for babies and toddlers, preschoolers, or kindergarteners, each show has been created with the emotional and social developmental needs and interests of young children and are presented in intimate venues to ensure every child is close to the action and fully immersed in the experience. In addition to engaging theatre productions, the festival will offer a range of multi-disciplinary programming designed to engage little ones and their parents.

Festival Facts

  • 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 35 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 $14 for public performances or $20 for a parent child ticket to our baby shows!
  • All festival venues are breastfeeding friendly!

Festival History

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.

About Theatre Direct

Now entering its 40th year, 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 touring throughout Ontario, across Canada and overseas.

Theatre Direct’s work has been recognized with 8 Dora Mavor Moore Awards and multiple nominations, 10 Chalmers Canadian Play Awards, and the Canada Council Theatre for Young Audiences Prize.

Mandate

  • 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.

Philosophy

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.

Approach

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