The Future of Young People?s Drama

The inception of Theatre On The Ridge was the brainchild of Vicky LaPrairie, a long-standing resident if Tumbler Ridge until the family relocated to Fort MacMurray in 2003. LaPrairie had a good showing of interested young people, excited by the novelty of a drama club in their town. Previously there had been adult drama groups, and also the drama classes offered in the public school system, but this was a first for Tumbler Ridge, having a club run as an independent program.

In its first year, there were about 40-50 kids and not all of them stayed following the Christmas production of ?Bah Humbug?, a street version of Charles Dickens? Christmas Carol. Quite a normal response, as kids will decide later that they want to try other things. The club had initially six-eight coaches to help. By the time the first production took place, down to four coaches. Bear in mind that coaching children?s drama can be much like hosting a birthday party. You give them an activity and they will creatively take flight. While it is handy to have some knowledge of techniques and methods, at this age group, the attention span for that is not huge. Besides, that?s what the director is for.

This year would be the fourth year for Young People?s Drama. I would like to see that happen, however as director for all but one of those years in existence, I have been requesting parents of club members and also anyone else in the community to come forward and help me to continue a club that is rich in creativity, art and culture. This club instills confidence. It instills learning public speaking and performance. It allows expression. It teaches non-prejudice, tolerance and acceptance. I hope that is as valuable to you as it is to me. Having no kids of my own, I still manage this club of young people for no other reason than I believe it is fun for the kids and teaches them good basics that will branch out into other areas of their life. These young people will charm and amaze you.

The kind of help I need is weekly, in every class. Parents who have attended on occasion may feel as if they were simply sitting there, when in fact they were balancing out the adult-child ratio. That is extremely important with young people. They are highly energetic and the need for supervision should not be undermined. Production time is a whole other entity and requires everyone to be available for dozens of tasks.

I can no longer do this alone. Thanks to the in-class help of Janet Delpierre last season, who came to almost every class, I was able to keep Young People?s Drama going. But the older kids suffered, as they are at a level that requires further stimulation and wanting to learn actual theatre methods. My attention was mostly on the kids aged six-eleven; a high-voltage group of dynamos that cannot be left to their own discretion, in an atmosphere such as drama.

When you go to Mass Registration this year and you sign your child up for programs such as hockey and figure skating, etc. you do so with the intention and understanding that you will not be just leaving your child for that one hour. You know you will be hands-on involved in the organization and while it may be overwhelming and time-consuming at times, you do it for the sake of your child?s enjoyment.

I ask the same of you now to keep Theatre On The Ridge ? Young People?s Drama going. I am proposing a rotating schedule as well as permanent in-class help.

The young people seem to really love this program but we need your help. They are worth it. I hope you will come forward in droves!

Please contact me at Mass Registration or at 242-3364

or email erinmike@pris.ca. Thank you so much.