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A place for play, community, and problem solving

Kathi Langston has been the Artistic Director of The Ottawa School of Theatre for 20 years — though when she first took her role in 2002, The School was called the Orléans Young Players. “We were operating out of The Hub Daycare on Tompkins Avenue in Orléans,” remembers Kathi. 

It seems fitting, then, that in 2022, The School continues to offer a host of dynamic programs to introduce students of all ages and abilities and in both official languages to the art of theatre, its playful roots still strong as it evolved into a “serious, educational theatre school.” For Kathi, nothing validates this evolution more than the swath of former students who “went away, studied theatre, became theatre artists, then came back as teachers.”

As the school grew, so did their programs. “At first, we started with English classes only,” said Kathi, “then we moved to the Shenkman Arts Centre in 2009. Since then, we’ve been able to offer our classes in French, too.” But the perks of moving didn’t stop at training students in both official languages.

The state-of-the-art building elevated the school’s programming and their students’ experience, connecting them with local artists, across disciplines. As Kathi said, “Students and families get access to visual art, dance, and music studios, and two beautiful theatres. The opportunities are endless.”

For Kathi, the benefits of the job are personal; as she states, “You can create and collaborate with so many different people.” But what makes theatre human is what made this pandemic so difficult for its communities. She adds, “To be able to be together with people, in-person, is what theatre is all about. It’s a live art.” 

Despite the difficulties from the pandemic, Kathi is optimistic about the future of theatre and its next generation of talent, as the last two years reinforced the value of community, empathy, and connection. “The great thing about theatre is that it teaches you life skills,” she described. “It’s a team sport without being a sport. It teaches us to share. It teaches you to find out who you are, to be strong as an individual, within a group, while accepting and encouraging others to do the same.” 

When it comes to youth, Kathi underscores how important this kind of active, engaging learning environment is in helping students gain confidence in themselves, while learning how to problem-solve and collaborate with others.

“In life we get problems, and it’s a drag, but when you’re in theatre, problems are what makes the story interesting,” explained Kathi. “Students learn that problems can be ok. That if they work hard, and let people help them, it can all work out.” 

Are you the parent of a budding theater kid? Are you an adult looking to have fun or challenge yourself? Here’s a sample of what The Ottawa School of Theatre is offering in 2022:

All-ages play

Poached Eggs: A Hoo-Hoo-Hooooo-dunnit, by Bruce Deachman and Joanna Henry

When a pair of nearly hatched whooping crane eggs goes missing from the River Heights Zoological Garden, there’s no shortage of suspects with motives for committing the fowl deed, including Flick, a baseball bat-wielding badger, and the zoo’s newest arrival, Coco, a venomous cobra. Can hard-boiled detective Dick Starnes, a great horned owl with secrets of his own, solve the case before both the trail and the endangered eggs grow cold? Find out in this film-noir styled Hoo-Hoo-Hooooo-dunnit.

Rehearsals: January-June 2022, schedules to be announced. Sunday rehearsals with some weekday and/or Saturday. TBA (depending on role).

Show dates: June 3, 4, 2022

Fee: $100 for current OST students & families, $210 for non-OST students/family

Deadline for registration: Friday January 14, 2022 6pm

Preschool play for ages 4-5

Come play with us! Our littlest students will have fun being creative, playing games, taking turns, and sharing ideas in this class that introduces them to acting. This class ends with an in studio production for family and friends to give them a chance to shine!

Classes: Saturday 8:45 am to 9:30 am

In studio: Jan. 15 to Mar. 5, 2022 with an 

In studio showcase: Mar. 5, 2022                          

Fee: $100

Théâtre pour petits enfants de 6 à 8 ans        

Créons ensemble un spectacle fantastique qui englobera nos connaissances acquises en théâtre tout au long du cours – élaboration de personnages, de la voix et du mouvement et de l’improvisation. Inscrivez-vous pour une aventure de jeux, de bricolages et surtout, de découvertes inattendues! Cette classe se termine avec une prestation sur scène présenté à la famille et aux amis!

Dates: le lundi de 17h45 à 18h45.    

En studio: 10 janvier au 6 juin 2022, 

Date de spectacle: 28 mai 2022

Aucune classe: le 21 février, 18 avril et 23 mai

Frais: 260$  

Behind-the-scenes for ages 12+

Students explore the world of theatre design – sets, costumes, props, Lights and Sound. Check out the Booth and Backstage – see how the Stage Manager pulls it all together. Students will show off their designs in The Spring Student Showcase: Inside OUT or Backstage ON!

Classes: Saturday 10:30 to 11:45 am

In Studio: Jan. 15 to Jun. 4, 2022       

On-stage showcase: May 24, 2022

Fee: $400

Teen classics for ages 13-17

This class has it all – Love, Death, Battles, Comedy, oh, and Costumes, Masks!

The classics make for exciting and dynamic theatre. Explore theatre origins with chunks of Commedia dell’arte, Shakespeare, Greek Tragedy, Chekov…so much to enjoy. This class will lay a foundation for future theatre endeavours. The students will enter discover and ‘see’ the settings, ‘hear’ the characters speak and feel their emotions, and together with their teacher create an exciting performance piece! With an emphasis on play, physicality, character and emotion, be prepared to shake up your Classics! Costumes! Masks! Dress it up and present at the stage production in the Student Showcase.

Classes: Wednesday from 4:45 pm to 6:00 pm                  

In studio: Jan. 12 to Jun. 1, 2022   

On stage showcase: May 25, 2022                         

Fee: $390