Halifax Theatre for Young People
Mandate & Vision
Halifax Theatre for Young People (HTYP)’s mandate is to create meaningful, engaging theatre experiences that stimulate the imaginations, hearts and minds of young people and their families.
HTYP honours the imaginations of audiences of all ages and endeavours to ignite the unlimited capacity of youth for empathy and an understanding of diverse human experience. We encourage critical thinking through the development of educational materials and workshops that explore each production’s more complex and challenging themes. Our dynamic productions and strong focus on working with playwrights to develop relevant and stimulating plays for young audiences help 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.
Halifax Theatre For Young People aspires to the following values:
Artistic Excellence: Creation of high-quality work that is engaging, original and honours the imaginations of young people.
Relevance: Production of authentic work that speaks with honesty to the lives and experiences of our intended audience.
Empathy: Material that empowers youths’ ability to understand the experiences and emotions of others.
Critical Thinking: Thought-provoking material that stimulates critical examination of one’s self and one’s world.
Community: Engagement of diverse communities and the creation of work that is relevant to their lives.
Tessa Mendel and Chris Heide founded HTYP in 2008 in response to the lack of a professional theatre company singularly devoted to young audiences in 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, at 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 productions 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 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 a 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 Write Stuff, 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 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 again in fall 2018 and was presented by Saint John Theatre Company on a two-week tour in New Brunswick in April 2018.
In November, 2017 Nine Compositions: Interactions with Art, featuring nine new short plays by local playwrights, was presented throughout the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia. Three of those plays were made into a new touring show, Art Attackk!, which was presented at EFT’s Next Stages Theatre Festival in June, 2018 and toured to schools throughout Nova Scotia in April and September 2019. In May 2019 we produced Brundibár, a children’s opera originally performed in Theresienstadt Concentration Camp during the Holocaust, featuring local youth and members of Symphony Nova Scotia.
Halifax Theatre for Young People
stands in solidarity against anti-Black and
anti-Indigenous racism and systemic oppression.
June 22 2020
As the recent anti-Black and anti-Indigenous tragedies have highlighted violence and discrimination in communities across North America, we acknowledge that we as an organization have benefitted from the systemic racism in our society.
HTYP’s mandate is to create theatre for young people, and we are keenly aware of our responsibility to model the world we want to see: one that affirms justice and equity for all people. We have attempted to model these principles through our past planning and programming, most recently in our postponed production Mi’kmaq Stories: Past & Present. The process of partnering with a team of Mi’kmaq artists has been a rich opportunity both to learn and to develop a positive process of collaboration. However, as an organization led by individuals with a primarily white settler background, we know we have much more work to do to become an explicitly anti-racist organization.
We are using this time to learn, to listen, to reflect on our past complicity, to engage with this struggle, and to determine how to work towards justice and equity through our future activities. We encourage all white people to join in this work.
Specifically, we are actively working towards:
– Listening to and learning from voices of communities that have been oppressed, and educating ourselves without expecting BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour) communities to do the work for us.
– Developing policy and procedures that acknowledge and actively dismantle white supremacist colonial structures in our administration and artistic practice, and replacing them with anti-racist action. We will begin by mandating anti-racist and anti-oppression training for all staff members.
– Increasing and amplifying diverse perspectives on our board, in our staff, in our programming, and in our casting and hiring, with consciousness about the methods we employ in these areas.
– Developing an internal work culture that welcomes, values, and protects the well-being of BIPOC people.
– Developing new initiatives to connect with BIPOC communities, including mentorship opportunities for emerging BIPOC artists, in ways that affirm, amplify and honour their voices, humanity and artistry.
We intend to share this work as we refine these goals and work to implement them. Please email us at HTYPinfo@gmail.com to discuss these activities or with further suggestions.
We must do better.
We will do better.
Because Black and Indigenous Lives Matter.
RESOURCES FOR MORE LEARNING
Resources on Anti-Black Racism in Nova Scotia, offered by the Community Sector Council of Nova Scotia:
This link (https://www.csc-ns.ca/anti-black-racism/#in-nova-scotia) includes multiple resources on topics including:
- Information on Anti-Black Racism in Nova Scotia – both historical and present-day;
- Organizations and Programs that are doing anti-racist work in our Province which you can support today; and
- Training, Education, and Recommended actions for Organizations to take to make their workplaces anti-racist.
For parents of white children, here are some resources that might give you a new perspective, and some tools to use when talking to children about racism: