Odyssey Theatre gives youth a glimpse into theatre world

Odyssey Theatre will host 15 youths for a memorable four-week free online theatre apprenticeship in August, covering a range of theatre roles and techniques. Applications are due by June 18.   Photo: Courtesy of Odyssey Theatre

By Matteo Cimellaro

Do you know a youth with an interest in theatre? In August, Odyssey Theatre will host 15 youths for a memorable online theatre experience. Apprentices will spend the entire month being mentored by professional theatre artists on theatre roles and techniques before staging their very own production in front of Odyssey artists, friends and family.

“The youth apprenticeship program is so important for students to develop their creative skills and explore their interest in theatre alongside professional artists,” said Odyssey’s artistic director Laurie Steven. “They will learn everything about creating live theatre through fun, engaging workshops.”

Odyssey Theatre is Ottawa’s award-winning professional summer theatre renowned for its productions featuring masks, physical theatre, clowns and puppetry. Its Theatre Under the Stars takes place beside the Rideau River in Strathcona Park and has been a highlight of the Ottawa summer theatre scene for the past 35 years.

Odyssey usually offers its unique summer apprenticeship program in the park. Due to the pandemic, the plan at this point is to conduct this year’s workshops on Zoom.

The program allows youth to express their creativity and develop the skills needed to explore their theatrical talents. During the four-week program, youth will learn how a theatre production is run from inception to performance. The apprentices do 12 workshops across different areas of the theatre (performance, directing, writing, design) and receive feedback from professional artists. At the end of these sessions, they will present their own theatre creation and receive feedback from Odyssey’s actors and director.

To finish the program, apprentices will have a talk-back session with Odyssey professionals for advice on school and careers. They are encouraged to maintain connections with the local theatre community following the program.

Previous apprentices have gone on to study and work in performance, production, sound and running a theatre. One recent apprentice was nominated for a Rideau Theatre Award as best emerging artist. Odyssey’s apprentices also learn new life skills, develop self-confidence and create lasting friendships.

“It is so worth it,” said a 2019 apprentice. “You really learn so much and make friendships that will last a lifetime. There is no experience like it.”

The program is free and Odyssey offers community volunteer hours, complimentary tickets to next summer’s production and a letter of reference.

Applications and more information are available at odysseytheatre.ca. Applications are due June 18.

Matteo Cimellaro is an arts management intern at Odyssey Theatre.

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