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(Updated 7:30 a.m., Oct. 15)
Orléans-based theatre school rebrands to reflect recent growth

By Fred Sherwin
Orléans Online

The first step towards Orleans Young Players rebranding as the Ottawa School of Theatre (OST) was taken in January 2004 when the school’s artistic director, Kathi Langston, launched the school’s first adult class.

Ironically, for a school now offering four adult classes, getting its first older students was “like pulling teeth,” Langston recalls. She persevered, based on her firm belief in the value of theatre.

The Ottawa School of Theatre’s first adult class production was The Little Bird on June 4, 2004. In the years since, a number of adults have explored their inner thespian at the east end theatre school. File photo

“It really does help in your ‘real’ life,” Langston told the 150 people gathered at the Sept.16 rebrand launch.

The first Orleans Older Players (OOPS) production, “The Little Bird” had a cast of nine, made-up of board and staff members, parents of OYP students, as well as a few teachers from a daycare centre with whom OYP shared space on Tompkins Avenue.

“Once they did it, they loved it and the word spread,” says Langston.

Adults can also participate in the school’s family productions.

Launched in 2006, there are now two all-ages full-stage productions each year, with casts as large as 90. This year’s first production will be “The Mrs. and the Elves” at the end of November. Auditions will continue into early October.

The school, established in 1989 with one class of 16 students aged nine to 11, has continued to expand and now offers classes for home-schooled students, a full-range of French language classes and popular genres such as musical theatre, improv and acting for camera. The nearly 300 students enrolled this year, aged pre-school and up, come from a wide geographic area.

Indicative of the reach of the school is new student Chantal Burtt, who recently moved from Toronto to Cantley, QC. She signed up for two weekly adult classes, laughing that the 40-minute drive isn’t as daunting when you are from Toronto. She chose OST because it offered several programs that interested her.

“I felt really inspired to hear that some members of the group are in their 15th production with the program,” she says. “Clearly, OST/OOPS are doing something right.”

Given the expansion of its student demographic and geographic reach, the board of directors decided it was time to remove “Orléans” and “Young” from the school’s name.

“By kicking off the new school year with our new name, we hope to broaden our attraction to the larger Ottawa community,” explains OST board president Barry MacDonald. “We are not just a recreational theatre school and the goal of our rebranding is to change that perception,”

Besides as a new name and logo, OST will be launching a new website in the next few months. Visit www.oypts.ca for more information.

(This story was made possible thanks to the generous support of our local business partners.)

 

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