Accomplished educator to run Festival drama camps - May 3, 2018
BY DENNY SCOTT
While the Blyth Festival has made an effort to attract youth through its Young Company program for years, in 2018 the Festival will aim for an even younger audience with a new drama camp program.
Aimed at children aged seven to 13, the camps will be split into two periods, July 23-27 and July 30-Aug. 3.
The camps are going to be run by accomplished theatre educator Shannon Hughes who is currently working on her PhD in Theatre and Performance Studies at York University. She earned her Master’s in Applied Theatre, which is theatre for social change or intervention, from the University of Capetown.
The program was recently finalized and Hughes said she is excited to be a part of it.
“I’m planning on introducing the youth to a variety of different theatrical styles while working on a short play based on what the kids have brought to the table,” she said.
Hughes is uniquely qualified to help bring this program to life for its first year, having taught theatre aspirants of all ages across the globe.
She worked in Egypt for two years with refugees, using theatre to help them integrate and learn language. She also spent time as the head of a dramatic arts program in Uganda and has also worked in Zambia and South Africa.
“A lot of what I have done, a lot of my work, falls into educational and social theatre,” she said. “It has been about devising and teaching all different aspects of theatre, introducing students to costume and props and engaging in acting and theatre training.”
Her educational experience will translate well, given the number of youth-based programs she has been involved with in the past.
She said she will be focusing on devising theatre with students because it fits the Blyth Festival’s mandate of creating new Canadian theatre.
“We want to make sure we’re doing that in the youth program.”
How that play will look will be completely up to the students, she said.
“What gets to the stage will totally come from what the kids do,” she said. “It can be a stressful way of working as a director, but it’s more beneficial for the youth. They get to see their own story and hear their own voices on stage.
“Parents get to see the work of the children as opposed to the work of a director, which is good,” she said.
Hughes said she was excited to be coming to Blyth. While she hasn’t been here professionally, having grown up in Listowel, she grew up knowing about and respecting the Blyth Festival.
“I’m living a little farther away these days, but I’m very happy to be coming to Blyth which is so close to home,” she said.
For more information on the program, contact the Blyth Festival Box Office at 519-523-9300.