When I was growing up in rural Saskatchewan (and partially in Europe), the opportunity to participate in theatre was one of the greatest gifts my parents and schools could have given me. Theatre gave me a way to keep playing dress-up long after my peers no longer thought it was cool. The stage was a place where I could be confident, unselfconscious, and (blissfully) anything, or anybody, I wanted to be. Being involved in productions kept me focused, gave me something to look forward to, and brought me those weird, it-all-happened-in-the-dark, we-bonded-in-cue-to-cue type friendships that only other theatre artists can understand. In my darkest hours, the responsibility of maintaining myself as a performer (body, voice, health) kept me from making some bad choices as I tried to deal with the academic and emotional hurdles life brought me.
When I learned about the Strathcona-based Project Limelight Society, a free theatre program for East Vancouver youth, I couldn’t think of a more positive way to engage children and young people with the arts, their community, and with their own talents. According to their website, the Project Limelight Society was founded by former film industry professionals (and sisters) Maureen Webb and Donalda Weaver, as a way to support and give back to the community they were raised in. Designed for youth aged 8-15, each four-month session teaches and develops performance skills as participants prepare for a full-length production. Enthusiasm and commitment from participants seems to be the name of the game, with no previous experience required. And of course, it’s offered at no cost to the participants.
Hold on, you say, what about that full-length production you mentioned? Oh yes! The young performers of Project Limelight will be treading the boards later this month at the Djavad Mowafaghian Cinema (SFU Woodward’s) in their upcoming production, There’s No Place Like Oz, loosely based on the children’s classics by L. Frank Baum.
Project Limelight Society presents THERE’S NO PLACE LIKE OZ, featuring 18 young performers, ages 8 – 12, who have worked together to create a show for their friends, family and community. THERE’S NO PLACE LIKE OZ, in the tradition of Pantomime, combines audience interaction, music, comedy and dance, and is suitable for audiences from the very young to the young at heart.
At Project Limelight, we want to unleash the imagination, awaken curiosity and give young people the opportunity to experience the magic of applause. Our program offers youth living in Vancouver’s Eastside, a safe place to build an artistic community.
[Read the full show description on Project Limelight’s website.]
There’s No Place Like Oz will be running for ONE DAY ONLY (two performances) so make sure you know the details:
Sunday, February 24, at 2:00 pm and again at 6:00 pm
Djavad Mowafaghian Cinema in SFU Woodward’s (Goldcorp Centre for the Arts)
Tickets are $15/$10 and can be purchased online through the Project Limelight website.
If you would like to support the work of the Project Limelight Society but will not be able to attend the show, donations to the program can be made through their website.
Happy Valentine’s Day everybody (once again, it seems, East Vancouver has stolen my heart…)!