Halifax Theatre for Young People
We believe in the imaginative power of art to help us understand ourselves and our world, and to connect with others. We want to create theatre that is challenging and exciting and that honours the unlimited capacity of young people. We believe that to do this, and to engage their full participation, theatre for children and youth requires a commitment to superior artistic values and production standards.
Halifax Theatre for Young People is a professional company aimed at children, youth and family audiences and permanently based in the Halifax Regional Municipality.
Halifax Theatre for Young People emerged in March of 2007 when founders Tessa Mendel and Chris Heide developed the original proposal for their theatre for young audiences:
“In recognition of the fact that there is no facility-based, professional theatre company singularly devoted to young audiences operating within Metro Halifax, our goal is to develop a regular season of plays for young people 5 and up, and their families. Among our priorities: adapting the work of well known Atlantic Canadian children’s writers for the stage; working with Nova Scotian playwrights to create plays around themes of interest to local audiences; producing plays for the young by well known Canadian and international playwrights, and adapting classic stories and books for the stage.”
In the spring of 2009, for its first production, HTYP presented Chris Heide’s adaptation of well-known author Sheree Fitch’s novel for young adults, The Gravesavers, funded, as with all our productions, through Canada Council Project Grants and Nova Scotia Arts Funding. The play was a substantial audience and critical success (Magical theatre for young and old… Fully-realized theatrical experience … complex and multi-layered”.) Particularly noted were the quality of the design elements and the complexity and depth of the work, making it enjoyable for all ages. The Gravesaverswas nominated for Theatre Nova Scotia Merritt Awards for script and sound design.
In the spring of 2010, HTYP produced Merlin, by Atlantic Canadian playwright Paul Ledoux . Merlin was even more ambitious in scope with a cast of nine operating under Equity contracts, and an equal commitment to aesthetic values. The play received an enthusiastic response from audiences and reviewers (“Merlin engrosses and endures… Halifax Theatre for Young People pulls the rabbit out of the hat again”) and was nominated for two Merritt Awards.
In March 2011, HTYP presented an evening of performances in theatre, spoken word, music and dance, “Celebrating Performance for Youth”, which coincided with our move to Alderney Landing in Dartmouth. In November 2011, we produced a double bill of two contrasting One Act plays, In the Fall and In This World. Set in rural Nova Scotia fifty years ago, In the Fall, adapted by Chris Heide from a short story by Alistair MacLeod, explored the coming of age of two brothers as they confront the reality of death in their rural existence (“lush and lyrical…rich in design”). In This World, by Hannah Moscovitch, is a complex exploration of race, class and sex as experienced by two urban, contemporary girls in highschool (“provocative, finely-produced”).
In May 2012 we organized our first mini-festival of theatre for young people as part of the SuperNova Theatre Festival, in partnership with Eastern Front Theatre. SuperNova Next featured theatre and performance workshops for youth and adults, a panel discussion on theatre for young audiences as an art form, and performances by and for young people produced by HTYP and Carousel Theatre. In October 2012 we produced Kevin Dyer’s The Monster Under the Bed at Alderney Landing Theatre (“a perfect mixture of real emotional depth and vivacious physicality”) which broke previous box office records for both school attendance and public performances. In the spring of 2013 we again partnered with Eastern Front Theatre to produce Next Stages Theatre Festival for Families, focusing for the first time on new play development.