Halifax Theatre for Young People

Mandate & Vision

Halifax Theatre for Young People’s (HTYP) mandate is to create meaningful, engaging theatre experiences for young people and their families. Striving for artistic excellence in all production areas, HTYP honours the imaginations of audiences of all ages and strives to ignite the unlimited capacity of youth for empathy and an understanding of diverse human experience.

HTYP seeks to encourage critical thinking through our development of educational materials and workshops for school groups so that they can explore each play’s more complex and challenging themes. Through our dynamic productions and strong focus on working with playwrights to develop new plays for young audiences that are relevant and stimulating, we seek to inspire a life long love of theatre and the shared experience of artistic expression.


Context & Activities

Halifax Theatre for Young People occupies a unique place within the theatre ecology of both our local community and our region as the only full-time TYA Company in Halifax Regional Municipality uniquely dedicated to serving the needs of young people.

HTYP is a non-profit society with a Board of Directors and an Artistic Director, Tessa Mendel. Since our first production in 2009 HTYP’s ongoing activities have developed each year to the point that we now offer a regular season of activities. These include a mainstage production and smaller touring productions. We offer an annual TYA play development program, Write Stuff, which gives playwrights the opportunity to develop innovative local plays for young audiences.

Our History

Tessa Mendel and Chris Heide founded Halifax Theatre for Young People in 2008 to address the fact that there was no facility-based, professional theatre singularly devoted to young audiences operating within Metro Halifax. 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. In the spring of 2010, HTYP produced Merlin, by Atlantic Canadian playwright Paul Ledoux .

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, adapted by Chris Heide from a short story by Alistair MacLeod and In This World by Hannah Moscovitch.

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, which 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. In the spring of 2013 we again partnered with EFT to produce Next Stages Theatre Festival for Families, focusing for the first time on new play development. In December 2013 HTYP produced Hiro Kanagawa’s The Patron Saint of Stanley Park at Alderney and in June 2014, in addition to offering our annual new play development program, HTYP was invited to be part of Stages/Magnetic North Festival with our production of Ron Fromstein’s Two in the Coop.

We produced a new version of John Lazarus’ play David for Queen, rewritten for the present day by emerging local playwright Kristin Slaney in the fall of 2014. In the spring of 2015 HTYP produced God’s Middle Name by Jennifer Overton, adapted for young audiences, as part of Stages/Next Stages Festival, in addition to our new play development program. In the fall of 2015, Two in the Coop was remounted at Alderney Landing, and toured to a number of theatres in Nova Scotia, including Ship’s Co. Parrsboro and the Chester Playhouse. Our production of Redfish, a ‘comedy about depression’ written and performed by local emerging artists Taylor Olson and Rachel Hastings, was part of Next Stages 2016 and toured to schools in primarily in HRM in the fall of 2016. Hannah Moscovitch’s play about life at home during the Great War, Where Poppies Blow, was re-written to be based in Halifax and given a site-specific production at Pier 21 in November 2016. In April 2017 Two in the Coop toured to theatres in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Goose Bay, Labrador while Redfish toured throughout Nova Scotia in the fall of 2017 and will be presented by Saint John Theatre Company on a two-week tour in New Brunswick in April 2018.

Nine Compositions: Interactions with Art featuring nine new short plays by local playwrights was presented throughout the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia in November, 2017 and thee of the plays will go on tour to local schools in May, 2018.