By Monica Dufault, Artistic Director
Now in our 47th season, Carousel Players is a multi-award winning Theatre for Young Audiences company based in the Niagara region of Ontario, perhaps best known for our work touring theatre to schools for children from Junior Kindergarten to Grade 8. A large part of that work has explored interactive theatre, with elements of audience participation.
Although I just started with Carousel Players as Artistic Director in January 2018, I have been associated with the company for many years, working previously for Carousel as a tour manager, actor, playwright, dramaturge and artist educator. I have seen the impact of theatre for young audiences from many perspectives, and am eager to continue to explore how live theatre experiences can enhance children’s development and touch their spirits.
How Carousel Players works with our audiences is changing. We used to tour our shows exclusively to schools, but we are finding that their priorities have shifted over the past two decades. We are adapting to this new normal by increasing public performances of our work, partnering with performing arts centres and looking for ways to collaborate with community organizations throughout Niagara.
We are also finding innovative ways to develop relationships with local secondary schools. Last year we invited a grade 12 drama class to attend a rehearsal of our show Hare & Tortoise, and did a Q & A session with them about theatre for young audiences and the considerations for creating plays for children. We are developing performance opportunities where high school students and primary school students can see a piece of theatre together, allowing the older kids to see the work through the eyes of the younger audience members.
This fall we worked with a company of emerging artists, Bad Hats Theatre, to produce a community tour of their wonderful show, Peter Pan. In January we start rehearsals for Whole World, a world premiere of Sean Dixon’s newest play about a Syrian refugee trying to find friends and fit in at his Canadian school. In April, we begin touring The Incredible Adventures of Mary Jane Mosquito, a delightful musical play with puppetry, written by Tomson Highway.