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For 2023’s World Theatre Day for Children and Youth, five performing arts associations across Canada have come together to celebrate an integral role in Theatre for Young Audiences: stage managers! This year’s message is brought to you by Giselle Clarke-Trenamen, Production Coordinator at Presentation House Theatre in North Vancouver. Join us as we celebrate stage managers in TYA. Read or listen to the full message from Giselle herself below:
Hello, my name is Giselle Clarke-Trenaman and I have had the honour of being a stage manager primarily for TYA for the past twenty years or so. I’ve done performances in gyms, halls and in theatres large and small and while the venues may change one thing doesn’t – my love for this genre of theatre. Most of my audiences are under the age of 12. If they don’t like or don’t understand something they will let you know. While their bodies may be small, their emotions are large. SMing for TYA is a gift.
I currently Stage Manage the TYA shows we produce here at Presentation House Theatre in North Vancouver. Ours are not the come in and sit down and keep quiet kind of shows. Caregivers and children are welcomed into the world of play as they enter the building. We have space for the kids to be themselves, a space with a piano – without a lock, tables with markers and paper for them to colour, Lego for the engineers and comfy sofas and coffee for the taller people. Caregivers know that they can come and go throughout the performance; those with babes in arms can stand and bounce at the side of the space; those who are initially afraid can stay at the back or the side until they are comfortable to come closer. Theatre at their pace. I often call the shows from the deck, beside the audience, in the audience. It gives me a very different perspective on what the audience sees and what the acting team sees. It’s also a wonderful thing to introduce the very young to a headset and a prompt script at the end of a performance.
Outbursts from our audience in the shows are seen as moments of engagement – their connection to something they have seen or heard isn’t always done because they don’t like something – we don’t assume. Working with a child’s imagination to create a moment in time that can never be repeated is a precious reward, one never to be squandered or taken lightly and a wonderful biproduct is watching children watch their caregivers at play.
Each show is brand new because the children make it so. Each acting moment while rehearsed and studied is adapted to what we see in front of us. It flexes my skills to a new level each day. The highly interactive shows allow me to be a visible part of the team, not a strange figure sitting in the booth.
TYA has led me to many beautiful moments that I don’t think that I would have experienced in adult theatre. Watching a child take in their first theatre performance, wowed by the lights and the sound; listening to a child experience a show beside me fully engaged in the world we have created for them; being approached in town with a smile and being thanked for the show; a hug in the lobby to say what words could not express.
TYA across the country has allowed children and their caregivers to experience worlds beyond the screens and beyond the written word. It has endured over the past few years and as parents, teachers and caregivers bring their most precious cargo back into our spaces we thank them for trusting us, for believing in us and for letting us play.
As I said earlier, stage managing for TYA is a gift and it’s my sincere wish for this gift to keep on giving.
Giselle has roots in the Toronto theatre community and holds a B.F.A. Hons in Theatre from York University. Now a resident of Vancouver B.C., Giselle was recently nominated for a Jessie Award (2019) for her work in Stage Management and highlighted by the Black Theatre Caucus for their 101 Black Stage Managers Celebration. She is currently the Production Coordinator at Presentation House Theatre in North Vancouver. Recent Stage Management credits include working with Presentation House Theatre on Cat Killer and So, How Should I Be? and Learning and Forgetting the International tours of Jack and the Bean and Where the Wild Things Are and the National tour of Baking Time. She has worked with Carousel Theatre, Goh Ballet, SoulPepper, Highlands Opera Studio and Opera Atelier to name a few. As the founder of Black History Matters, she has presented to schools in the Vancouver area reaching over 3,000 students with her tailored age-appropriate presentations.
She currently sits on the Board for Nova Dance and ASSITEJ Canada.
Written by: Giselle Clarke-Trenaman
Video shooting: Brad Trenaman
Video Production: ASSITEJ
On March 20, let’s celebrate World Theatre Day for Children and Youth!
“TYA has led me to many beautiful moments that I don’t think that I would have experienced in adult theatre. Watching a child take in their first theatre performance, wowed by the lights and the sound; listening to a child experience a show beside me fully engaged in the world we have created for them; being approached in town with a smile and being thanked for the show; a hug in the lobby to say what words could not express.”
– Giselle Clarke-Trenaman
Excerpt of Canadian message of World Theatre Day for Children and Youth 2023.
Ottawa, ON. March 20, 2023 – Every March 20th, World Theatre Day for Children and Youth is celebrated throughout the world. Five (5) associations that represent the creators, producers and presenters of theatre for youth and children: ASSITEJ Canada, l’Association des théâtres francophones du Canada (ATFC), Théâtres Unis Enfance Jeunesse (TUEJ), The Professional Association of Canadian Theatres (PACT) et Canadian Children’s Festivals Association combine their efforts to present the Canadian message for World Theatre Day for Youth and Children. For 2023, the World Theatre Day committees have decided to highlight a behind-the-scenes profession, of which theatre could not be made without: stage managers.
This year, we asked Giselle Clarke-Trenaman, Production Coordinator at Presentation House Theatre in North Vancouver, to write the Canadian message for World Theatre Day for Children and Youth. Through this message, Giselle tells us about the joy of being a stage manager for children’s theatre. She presents a new way of bringing theatre to children by integrating them fully into the play, allowing them the freedom of expression. “Ours are not the come in and sit down and keep quiet kind of shows. Caregivers and children are welcomed into the world of play as they enter the building. We have space for the kids to be themselves, a space with a piano – without a lock, tables with markers and paper for them to colour, Lego for the engineers and comfy sofas and coffee for the taller people. Caregivers know that they can come and go throughout the performance; those with babes in arms can stand and bounce at the side of the space; those who are initially afraid can stay at the back or the side until they are comfortable to come closer.“
Giselle was recently nominated for the Jessie Awards (2019) for her work as a stage manager, as well as being nominated by the Black Theatre Caucus at the 101 Black Stage Managers event. She is currently the Production Coordinator at Presentation House Theatre in North Vancouver. Her recent credits as a stage manager include working with Presentation House Theatre on Cat Killer and So, How Should I Be? as well as Learning and Forgetting. In the same capacity, she joined the international tours of Jack and the Bean and Where the Wild Things Are, as well as the national tour of Baking Time. She has worked with Carousel Theatre, Goh Ballet, SoulPepper Theatre Company, Highlights Opera Studio and Opera Atelier, to name a few. As the founder of Black History Matters, she ahs orchestrated presentations in Vancouver area schools, reaching over 3,000 students with her customized, age-appropriate workshops.
The French translation of this year’s message is provided by Jacky Yenga – aka Jacky Essombe. Jacky is the founder of the Spirit of the Village concept. She is an artist, TEDx speaker and best-selling author. She is a messenger of African village wisdom that helps heal the soul. She teaches how to use the power of community through wellness and to access joy through rhythm, movement and connection.
The partner associations encourage all organizations, businesses, schools and individuals to mark World Theatre Day for Children and Youth by showing the video or reading the Canadian message in the classroom. This is a great way to educate the next generation about this age-old art form that allows us to better understand ourselves and each other.
The World Theatre Day for Children and Youth is an initiative of ASSITEJ International, which runs the “Take a Child to the Theatre” campaign that invites all those interested in theatre for young audiences to participate together in a global day and advocate for children’s right to theatre and art. The international message is available on the ASSITEJ International website.
About the partners
ASSITEJ Canada is a member-driven, non-profit service organization dedicated to supporting the professionalism and development of creative and performance work for young audiences in theatre, dance and music. It also encourages the dissemination of information about networking opportunities and the sharing of ideas among its members across Canada. ASSITEJ Canada liaises with ASSITEJ International, bringing creators and presenters of work for young audiences across Canada into the international conversation.
L’ATFC is a national arts service organization that brings together seventeen professional theatre companies located in six Canadian provinces where Francophones are in the minority (New Brunswick, Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia). It has been supporting its members and the entire professional theatre practice in the Canadian Francophone communities since 1984.
TUEJ’s mission is to represent its members and defend their interests; to negotiate and manage collective agreements with artists’ associations; to foster the development of professional youth theatre companies; and to work actively to increase the attendance and promotion, as well as the sustainability of performing arts for children and youth. As a key player in the young audience sector, TUEJ aims to improve the conditions of the practice of theatre for young audiences, actively promotes the sector, works with partners in other disciplines, and lobbies public authorities to create better recognition of the performing arts for children and youth.
The Canadian Children’s Festivals Association brings together a number of Canadian festivals that program arts events for young audiences and work together to support their development.
PACT is an organization of Canadian professional theatres that represents the collective voice of its members. PACT is a leader in the national performing arts community and a strong advocate for the value of live performance. Since 1979, its goal has been to create a community in which theatre professionals (artistic and administrative) can come together to discuss important issues and work together to create innovative solutions.