Arts and Culture for Early Years       May 4 – 24, 2020        

Festival Archive

2014 Charting New Territory – Practice and Research in Theatre for the Very Young


Charting New Territory:  Theatre for Early Years in Research and Practice
May 12, 11:00 -2:00
Helen Gardiner Phelan Playhouse
Hosted by The Drama Centre at the University of Toronto

Join scholars and researchers from a wide variety of disciplines as they present snapshots of their research, discuss themes and trajectories relating to early years, creative development, cognitive ability, theatre, digital media, and play.

The wide variety of perspectives and research positions provide a unique opportunity to consider how different disciplines connect to the inherently interdisciplinary work of making theatre for the very young.  The session is open to observers, and everyone will have an opportunity participate in the discussion and ask questions. (Lunch provided courtesy of the Drama Centre, University of Toronto)

  • Bethany Corey
    A Range of Possibilities: Audience Roles in Theatre for the Very Young
  • Ben Fletcher-Watson
    The Baby Audience: defining the developmental capabilities of babies and toddlers
  • Leslee Silverman
    Public attitudes and trends in the context of developing, and presenting theatre for early years
  • Heather Fitzsimmons Frey with Emma Miles
    Trends and Ideas in Theatre for Babies and Early Years
  • Caroline Fusco
    Talking to urban children and parents about play
  • Hilary Leung and Nick Shim
    Sago Mini – Designing and Testing Digital Play for the Very Young
  • Marc Richard
    Creative Dance as Embodied Learning
  • Elyne Quan
    Darkness and Light: Creating Theatre That Matters for Young Audiences or “How To Not Be Afraid of Taking Ideas Really, Really Far
  • Kate Einarson
    What can music research tell us about arts participation for infants and children?

2:30 – 4:00
Readings, & Viewings – Theatre Productions and Education Projects for preschoolers and kindergarteners

(to attend, please email

Participant Biographies

Bethany Lynn Corey is a teaching artist who has worked internationally as an actress, director, and teaching artist, and currently serves as the Early Learning Manager for the Thinkery, a Children’s Museum in Austin, Texas focused on STEAM education. Bethany received her MFA from University of Texas at Austin where much of her research involved the use of drama and theatre for children under the age of six. As a teaching artist Bethany has worked on curriculum development, in-class residencies and teacher training programs for a wide range of companies including Drama for Schools, Paramount Theatre, Trike Theatre, and Imagination Quest (IQ).  Professional development work with current and pre-service teachers focuses on the use of arts-based instruction with early learners and emerging readers. Bethany has taught professional development workshops for many schools and organizations, including The American Alliance for Theatre and Education, The Texas Association for the Educators of Young Children (TAEYC), The Austin Association for the Educators of Young Children (AAYEC), The Arkansas Arts Council, and Trike Theatre’s Dramatic Book Club Program. Recently Bethany’s work has shifted to focus on creating original work in Theatre for the Very Young, theatrical performances specifically designed to serve children under the age of six, especially through her SPARK! Theatre Ensemble. She holds a dual B.A. in Music and Theatre for Children and Public Communications from American University.

Kate Einarson is a Ph.D. Candidate at the McMaster Institute for Music and the Mind (MIMM), where she has also taught in the undergraduate Music Cognition program. Her research examines how humans learn to listen to and move to music, and how engaging with music affects the cognitive, social, and emotional development of infants and children. Kate comes by her research interests, in part, because she has taught private and group-based music to students of all ages for more than a decade.

Heather Fitzsimmons Frey is a PhD candidate at the University of Toronto Centre for Drama, Theatre, and Performance Studies. Also a director and dramaturge, her research interests include Theatre for Young Audiences (TYA), dance and TYA, youth spectatorship, girlhood studies, intercultural theatre practices for young audiences, and Victorian juvenile at-home theatricals. She has presented her research internationally, published in Canadian Theatre Review and Youth Theatre Journal and has a book chapter forthcoming concerning children’s performance of citizenship in the 1947 Canadian children’s chocolate boycott (Routledge). She is co-editing a book on Theatre and Learning with Art Babayants, and is editing a critical collection of Canadian plays for young people with unusual creation stories called Ignite! (Playwrights Canada Press).

Ben Fletcher-Watson is in the final year of a PhD in Drama at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and the University of St Andrews, researching contemporary practice in Scottish theatre for under-threes. His current research employs the Grounded Theory Method to analyse a substantial archive of practitioner interviews, aiming eventually to synthesise a dramaturgy of Theatre for Early Years.Ben trained as a director and dramaturg in the USA, then spent nine years working in the arts as a theatre manager and fundraiser. He is Editor of the Scottish Journal of Performance and a member of the Postgraduate Committee of the Theatre and Performance Research Association (TaPRA). Research interests include practice within Theatre for Early Years, spectatorship research with non-verbal audiences, the intersection of performing arts and digital technologies for the very young, and theatre experiences for unborn children.

Emma Miles:

Emma is in her first year of a PhD researching Theatre for Early Years audiences in the department of Drama and Theatre at Royal Holloway, University of London, funded by a college scholarship. She worked for several years with children in informal educational settings, before training to be a Primary school teacher. During her three years as an infant school classroom teacher, Emma completed a MEd in ‘Arts culture and education’ from The University of Cambridge.

Elyne Quan

Elyne is 155 centimeters tall. In addition to co-writing the Sterling Award winning Lig & Bittle with Jared Matsunaga-Turnbull, Elyne’s playwriting credits include TrustWhatSurface TensionSouvenirs of HomeStray and Look Both Ways. She has a BA (Honors) in Drama from the University of Alberta, a MFA in Dramatic Wriiting from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts and is an alumna of the Canadian Film Centre. Elyne is currently the past-president of the Playwrights Guild of Canada. She lives in Toronto with her partner who also cannot see the top of the fridge.

Dr. Marc Richard

Marc Richard is a director, choreographer, teacher and writer who has worked in theatres across Canada. He is also the Head of the Acting Discipline in Sheridan College’s Bachelor of Music Theatre Performance Program. Last spring he finished his PhD in Education at York University. His dissertation exhibit entitled Traces of Motion: Making the learning visible in creative dance education has been seen across the province. He is a graduate of the School of Toronto Dance Theatre and also holds an MA in Dance from York University. He is the Canadian National Representative for Dance and the Child International (daCi), serves on the boards of Kaeja d’Dance and The Dancecurrent and is a member of the World Alliance for Arts Education (WAAE). He was recently invited to present his research at the WAAE international summit in Rovaniemi, Finland.

Nick Shim is a researcher and engineer from Sago Sago Toys, working on titles such as Sago Mini Pet Cafe and Monsters.  He holds a M.Sc. in Human Computer Interaction from the University of Toronto and leads Sago’s research with kids and parents.  Nick is an experienced usability tester who’s worked with gamers as young as 2 and as seasoned as 86.  Prior to joining Sago he worked at Electronic Arts as a software engineer, developing console games for the NBA Live and FIFA franchises. 

Leslee Silverman is a Canadian theatre director, recognized internationally as a leader in theatre for young audiences. She founded the Manitoba Theatre for Young People in 1982. Her awards and honours include the Silver Jubilee Commemorative Medal (1992); YWCA Woman of Distinction Award (2001); first recipient, Manitoba Arts Council Award of Distinction (2003); City of Winnipeg Certificate of Appreciation (2003); Honorary Member, Association for Canadian Theatre Research (2004). In 2010, MTYP received the Human Rights Commitment Award for “promoting human rights and social transformation for almost 30 years.”, and the Governor General’s Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Performing Arts (Theatre). She was instrumental in establishing the Canwest Global Performing Arts Centre, the only purpose-built young people’s theatre facility in English Canada.

Ms. Silverman received a BA (English) from the University of Manitoba and an MA (Developmental Drama) from the University of Colorado. Before embarking on a full-time theatre career, she worked as a freelance director, youth outreach worker and education researcher.[1]