Aiming to unite Ottawa’s diverse cultures through artistic experience, Once Upon a Kingdom Theatre (OUK) celebrated five years of successful work in the community on Jan. 18 at Woodroffe United Church. Attendees participated in a Pantomime workshop and were entertained by children and professional adult actors with enchanting performances.
“It feels fantastic because there are so many things that we’ve accomplished and the celebration proves just how many people got attached to the theatre and value and support us,” said Ekaterina Vetrova, Artistic Director of OUK. “It really feels like a family. We’ve done 7 professional shows and 23 shows with students. It’s quite a lot of work and it feels great.”
The purpose of the theatre is to create productions for young people and adults that reflect children’s perspectives of the world. Vetrova says she also wants these productions to ignite a strong emotional response from the audience by using fairy tales and contemporary children’s stories. What makes the theatre even more unique is its focus on performing shows in both English and Russian. Vetrova, who received a BA degree with a specialization in Theatre as well as a Masters of Fine Arts in Theatre Directing from the University of Ottawa, combines her personal European experience with that of the local community.
“I think we can’t deny there are so many wonderful different cultural communities that exist in Canada and it’s important to support each of them with a variety of different arts,” she added. “While our theatre performs in English and Russian, we’re looking to expand because we love French theatre as well. We have a huge Russian community and we’re the only theatre that creates work in Russian and works with Russian children.”
Vetrova also says she believes in Ottawa’s talent remaining in the city and creating work here instead of moving to large metropolises. She wants to support the local arts scene as much as possible by hiring and attracting young people to work in theatre. As for OUK’s future plans, Vetrova says they are ready for their space.
“We’re really thinking about getting our own building in the next five years, so we’ll need grants and extra support to accomplish that,” she said. “Our studio continues to expand and in the past two months, over 20 new students joined. It’s an exciting time!”
For more information, visit: www.onceuponakingdom.com.