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77facilities include a fully equipped 200-seat theatre and aneducation studio, maintained by a staff of talented individuals whoenthusiastically produce intelligent and uncompromising work. Since the theatre's inception, it's been a platform for creativityand ingenuity, both at home and abroad. Over the first 25 years,the company built a reputation for tackling controversial buthighly relevant issues, and making them palatable for youngaudiences, focusing on youth aged nine through 15. Bycommissioning some of Canada's top playwrights and award-winning creative teams, the theatre's commitment to a highstandard of excellence resulted in several historical andgroundbreaking productions. Some of these high-profilesuccesses include mountings of Flesh and Bloodand Binti'sJourney, both dealing with HIV/AIDS in Canada and abroad; theDora award-winning production of Sanctuary Song, which wascreated as an opera for young audiences; Beneath the BanyanTree, a story of self-discovery and truth across cultural boundariesthat integrated puppets, dance and legend; and most recently,Head à Tête, a joyful and poignant piece delivered in both ofCanada's official languages, that shows how two opposing sidescan mend fences and cooperate. Many of these works have goneon to tour across the country and internationally, playing to sold-out runs and pushing the creative boundaries that define theatrefor young audiences. In keeping with its commitment toexcellence, the company has used the last decade to not onlycontinue to present work, but to also intensify the integrationbetween arts and education. Accustomed to performing for schoolgroups, the team has created unique full and half-day programs tofurther engage young people through art. Students are invited towatch a performance in the company's theatre, and following eachshow, take part in innovative workshops with the actors, allowingparticipants to explore themes of communication, culture and theenvironment that builds on their school's curriculum. Artistic Director Lynda Hill is dedicated to maintaining thecompany's accessibility and inclusiveness for families withchildren of all ages, creating a diverse range of drama camps and

78To celebrate its 35th year, Theatre Direct has a season of diverse andcompelling shows designed to engage young audiences and theirfamilies. Here's a look at the Spring lineup: Head à Tête (April 14-29, 2012) Head à Têteis a charming, insightful and often side-splittingly funnyplay that follows the story of two wanderers who overcome the barriersof language and mistrust through the power of play. pinocchio dans ma valise (May 15-19, 2012) Pinocchio wants to become a real boy! This classic story is re-told bythis acclaimed Franco-Ontarian Puppetry company from Ottawa. Aworld of magic, fantasy and endearing friendship is created usingminimal and accessible French language, puppetry, live music andvocal soundscapes. Recommended for JK through grade three. For more information on Theatre Direct, visit www.theatredirect.ca classes. Teenagers can enroll in Audition and PresentationCoaching, while younger artists can participate in the Afterschoolor Saturday Morning Ensembles, where they'll create aperformance piece using drama, movement and music. Similarexperiences are held through more intensive week-long summerdrama camps where children combine artistic disciplines to createa performance. Responding to public demand, Hill recentlyexpanded her education programming to include Early Years, andhas held classes for preschoolers, as well as family workshops fortoddlers and babies. Partnering with other like-mindedorganizations, Theatre Direct strives for further artistic integrationby learning practical strategies to support children with higherneeds such as ASD (Austism Spectrum Disorders), so that allstudents can adequately benefit from theatre and education. As it continues into its 35th year, Theatre Direct remainscommitted to exploring and creating theatre for young audiences,aiming to provide access to the arts for as many children aspossible. According to Lynda Hill, "We believe that it is not aprivilege but a child's right to experience theatre and the arts --and to grow from that experience. "Regardless of socio-economic background or educational status,we believe a child should have the opportunity to see high-qualitytheatre and use their imagination beyond the limits of what theythink is possible." As a parent that considers the arts to be of vital importance in achild's development, it's great to see that exceptional theatre foryoung people is in good hands. Spring 2012