The show must go on so youth and adults in the north and throughout Manitoba will have plenty of opportunities to hone their performing arts skills thanks to virtual workshops by two theatre companies.
In association with Mall of the Arts and the Flin Flon Arts Council, the Manitoba Theatre for Young People (MTYP) is offering six weeks of free virtual training in drama, dance, puppetry and mask beginning Jan. 9 and running until Feb. 13. Each class is open to six youth each from Thompson and Flin Flon in the age categories of four to seven, eight to 11 and 12 and older.
While its ultimate goal is to create a physical space in Thompson for performance arts, culinary arts, visual and sculptural arts and recycled arts, Mall of the Arts wanted to start providing local artistic programming now, while youth are at home and looking for something to occupy and entertain themselves.
“I was feeling down and my kids were going stir crazy and I thought, “Geez, I know what art can do,’ so instead of just sitting there and waiting for us to tray and get this building, we should be doing something online for this community,” said Mall of the Arts cofounder Andria Stephens, who got financial backing for the idea from the Flin Flon Arts Council.
“We are excited to support a program that connects children in Northern Manitoba,” Flin Flon Arts Council co-ordinator Crystal Kolt told Winnipeg Sun Local Journalism Initiative reporter Nicole Wong. “It is really interesting to see them potentially make new friends and hopefully after the pandemic wouldn’t it be lovely for these children to connect in person at some point? In the meantime , this is something we can offer, and we are delighted to provide financial support.”
The MTYP performing arts classes will be offered on Saturdays beginning at 9:30 a.m. for the youngest age group, 10:45 a.m. for eight to 11-year-olds and noon for those 12 and up.
“The goal of this program is to expose kids in northern rural communities to an array of arts and allow for programs like this to continue in the future whether it is on Zoom or when we can meet in person,” MTYP drama outreach co-ordinator Matthew Armet told the Sun. “We would love to send teachers from MTYP up to these communities to run workshops in person. Ideally this program would spark interest in the arts in northern communities.”
MTYP isn’t the only theatre offering free online arts programming in Manitoba over the first six weeks of 2021. Winnipeg Studio Theatre is also offering a series of 26 drama workshops in vocals, theatrical makeup, acting for the camera and Broadway choreography, among others. The Made in Manitoba Masterclass series is supported by a provincial Safe at Home Manitoba grant and delivered through Zoom.
“When everything changed [due to COVID-19 last spring] I shifted to a virtual format and initiated this Made in Manitoba Masterclass series,” says Brenda Gorlick of the WST, who is the instructor for some dance workshops. “It was really geared for musical theatre performers but now we’ve expanded to have a little bit more theatre arts and even some film arts involved.”
The Masterclass Series begins Jan. 10 and continues until Feb. 7 with three workshops per day on weekends. There are sessions for adults as well as for youth aged 9-12 and 13 to 17, presented by professional artists from Manitoba, including some who are now Broadway stars.
Gorlick says the workshops may be what inspires someone from outside Winnipeg to discover a new hobby or even a career path.
“There are people everywhere on this planet that are passionate about the arts but they may not have access to the tools to express themselves so this really gives you a chance to test drive some of what you are capable of but in the safety of your own home,” she said.
Mall of the Arts plans to offer more workshops in visual and sculptural arts in the future, says Stephens.