All the world may be a stage, and the men and women merely players, but Abbotsford Children’s Theatre believes kids deserve their moment in the spotlight, too. That’s why the organization—which welcomes young actors from ages eight to 18—provides a positive environment in which they can hone their skills.
Founder and Artistic Director Freddy Latham started the program after she searched—but couldn’t find—for an artistic outlet for her then-nine-year-old daughter. So, she rented a space and put an article in the local paper, and Abbotsford Children’s Theatre was born.
In the beginning, Latham directed and produced all of the plays, with occasional help from a parent or friend. But the program has grown in size, and in the complexity of productions, so now ACT has a resident director, Leslie Kemp, as well as an assistant, Miranda Martin. Still, Latham directs occasionally: in the upcoming season, she’ll direct Snow White. “I’m looking forward to being in the director’s chair again,” she says.
Of all the things different aspects of the theatre experience, Latham most enjoys interacting with young actors—many of whom, when they start, have no idea how much work is involved. Not only must they learn lines, but also blocking (where to stand), character development, and the art of interacting with others on stage. “It’s rewarding to see their growth as they learn these steps,” she says.
Being part of ACT benefits young actors in many areas: they connect with others who are interested in acting, make new friends, and learn valuable life skills—like focus, concentration and team work. “Theatre is about discipline and commitment to the role and to the group process,” says Latham. “The skills learned in acting help actors in their life roles—both in their occupations and eventually, as parents.”
A registered charity, ACT relies on support from within the community. From businesses that sell tickets, to the parents and local newspapers that help promote the shows, the Abbotsford community has, says Latham, been very supportive.
To fulfill the organization’s mandate to offer theatre experiences for young audiences, each season ACT devotes four performances exclusively to school-aged children. “As an educator, I believe in supporting kids in whatever capacity I can,” says Latham, who taught drama in the Abbotsford School District for 15 years. “I believe in the principle of paying it forward, so we’re doing our part to keep the arts alive.
“I believe there’s an artist within all of us,” she continues, “whether it is visual or performing arts. The arts give freedom of expression, teach us about ourselves and often help us make sense of a complicated world.”
Is your child interested in acting? Auditions will be held June 7 for the 2011-12 season, featuring two shows: Best Christmas Pageant Ever in December, and Snow White in April. For more information, or to set up an audition, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit Abbotsford Children’s Theatre’s website at www.abbotsfordchildrenstheatre.org.