Lights, camera, action.
A diverse group of actors is preparing to take to the stage at Victoria’s Metro Theatre, in a collaborative performance that allows young people to shine, especially, young people with autism.
“So, you can put all your extra things in the cubbie…”
These young actors, from their early teens to early twenties, gather for their dress rehersal.
“C’mon in…c’mon in…circle up…” encourages director Kimberly Denness-Thomas.
The actors are from two theatre troupes founded about a decade ago to encourage kids to take to the stage – Tumbleweeds for typical kids, Mosaic for kids on the autism spectrum.
“It’s been amazing for their self confidence” explains Mosaic Learning Society founder Laurel Duruisseau, “for speech, for eye contact, for reading facial expression, for body language, but I would definitely say first and foremost it’s about self confidence.”
The two groups come together every other year, to fill the stage with a mega-production.
Duruisseau adds “as a parent of a child with autism, it’s a really big treat to be able to sit in the audience and have that moment of pride that’s often denied parents of special needs kids to be able to sit in the audience and say ‘that’s my boy up there…’ ”
Jesse Wilson, in Grade 7 at Mosaic Learning Society, says being part of this theatre troupe is “an amazing, amazing experience.
“I really do think it’s helped a lot with my confidence over the 5 years that I’ve been here.”
Rhea Harper is in Grade 7 at Central Middle School. She’s also part of the Tumbleweeds Theatre Company.
“They’re very accepting and stuff, and it’s just really nice to act with my friends in the group.” says Harper.
Avery Paul joined Tumbleweeds in kindergarten. She’s the musical director of this production – Brahm and the Angel.
“It’s really helped me overcome fears of anything, pretty much” says Paul, “like…I’m shy about this…or if I ever have a problem it’s always helped me get rid of that…”
“This program means an awful lot to us” says Brenda Ksionzyk, who’s daughter has been with Mosaic Learning Society for three years.
Ksionzyk greatly appreciates the collaboration between the two theatre troupes.
“Our kids aren’t just learning from the typical kids, but the typical kids are learning from our kids too.”
Click here for tickets to the June 3rd and 4th performances of Brahm and the Angel at the Metro Theatre in Victoria.