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theatreHub Staff

Children's Theatre is coming to Saugeen Shores elementary schools thanks to the Grade 11 and 12 drama class at Saugeen District Secondary School (SDSS).

The students, under the supervision of SDSS Dramatic Arts Teacher Leslie Turcotte, are currently rehearsing a series of short plays from the children's books of well known author Robert Munsch, which will include favourites such as The Paper Bag Princess, Smelly Socks, Blackflies and Class Clown.

“A lot of children never have a chance to go to the theatre...so this is an opportunity to experience theatre,” said Turcotte January 10. “In terms of teaching it's one of my favourite things to do,” she added.

Grade 2-12 drama student, Jordyn Lyoness said that she has participated in children's theatre before and it was a favourite of hers in the Senior Drama courses. “What's fun about children's theatre is obviously they're really short, like little skits, and you can jam so much fun into a small scene,” she said. “You get to act like a kid again, you get to be all silly. Because the kids love how silly you are, you can over exaggerate and the kids just think it's hilarious and everybody gets to be silly and it makes everybody laugh. It's a good time.”

Lyoness said that there's a lot of laughter and interaction from the elementary school students. “It's amazing. You can tell they really love it, they all start screaming.”

Grade 11 drama student Mikhayla Messer, who attended École Port Elgin Saugeen Central School prior to graduating to SDSS, said she was excited to go back to the elementary school. “Every year I'd look forward to children's theatre and I got an amazing experience as a kid. Now I actually get to go and do that and show other kids,” she said. “It's kind of like you're passing the torch and when I was at elementary school I remember thinking I want to do that.”

Turcotte said that the drama class hopes to travel to three elementary schools all in one day with all the lighting, props, costumes and set pieces. “So these guys get an opportunity to get a sense of what it's like to be a travelling troupe,” she explained. “We travel, we get on the bus, we get off at Northport and then we set up, we do the show, we tear it all down, we get back on the bus, we go to Saugeen Central...it all happens on the same day.”

Turcotte explained that it teaches the students to think about what they will need to take with them to put on the performances. “They have to be mindful of using sets in one Robert Munsch play that they can use in another one so that we're not carrying a bunch of stuff that we don’t need to duplicate,” she said. “They have to be mindful of packing it all up, mindful of how much lighting you want to take and how can we maximize that without having a bus load of sets and props.”

Although there will still be plenty of equipment the students have to take with them, Turcotte said the time in setting it all up and then dismantling will get quicker with each performance. “The first time we set it up it will be like 35 minutes but by the time the end of the day comes they'll be able to do it in like 10 minutes flat,” she laughed. “It is a great community activity because they're all pitching in and they're all helping each other.”

SDSS Drama Class 560Saugeen District Secondary School's Grade 11 and 12 drama class, ready to start rehearsals for their Children's Theatre, which they hope to take on the road at the end of January to perform at three Saugeen Shores elementary schools.