• By: Keith Whittier

All the World’s a Stage

There’s nothing like being in a foreign environment to radically change your perspective on things you thought you knew. Stepping out of your comfort zone can expose you to different points of view, leading to growth and inspiration. This phenomenon has made an educational exchange is a right of passage for many, a chance to learn new things about your passions, the world and yourself. This unique form of experience is especially ideal for actors providing people, places and things to further influence and inform their craft.

Local theatre company Once Upon a Kingdom Theatre believes just that. The company will be hosting an international exchange program called Children's Theatre Exchange (CTE) this coming September, bringing together young actors from three different countries. The program will bring SOLO Theater (from the United States) and PIANO Theatre, the Theatre of Deaf Children (from Russia), to the capital, both world-famous and award-winning companies.

Participants will get the opportunity to learn from top international theatre artists and spend three days immersed in acting, dance, movement and shadow theatre. Children travelling from the United States and Russia will stay with volunteer host-families for the duration of the exchange.

On day one, kids from 9-17 will be welcomed to the capital by participating in a theatrical quest, requiring them to take to the streets for creative and spontaneous performances while simultaneously exploring the city. Check the locations on the Once Upon a Kingdom Theatre's website and make sure to keep an eye out for them downtown!

Kids will then put what they’ve learned to the test by taking part in a culminating final performance called "Metamorphosis: The Magic of Transformation". The show is open to the general public of all ages.

A highlight of the exchange is a performance of PIANO's famous Wings for Clowns, a show that has been in five world festivals and traveled to more that 15 countries. It will finally be brought to Ottawa for one night only on September 16th.

In the performance, motion is used in place of language to communicate a suite of shorter stories. Actors portray archetypes including Pierrot, Harlequin, Columbine, Old Man and Old Woman. Elements of nature such as Trees, Sea, Wind and Rain are central characters through which the performers can engage with the audience, creating a unique experience of co-creation and co-participation unlike any other theatre show.

If anything, being deaf enhances the acting of the young actors from Russia and their ability to express themselves in their art. By providing them with an original perspective of a world without sound, it brings a different view of the world to their acting and strengthens their performance.

Special guests who would like to follow along with the exchange, such as artists or teachers, are welcomed.

For these international drama students, all the world's indeed a stage and they are sure to receive a standing ovation.

The Once Upon a Kingdom Children’s Theatre Exchange runs from September 14th-16th. Workshops will take place at the Nepean Creative Arts Centre and performances will be in the Kailash Mital Theatre. Reservations can be made from the Once Upon a Kingdom website, as well as by phone at 613-868-8343 or email at onceuponakingdom@gmail.com.