What do you mean by "Theatre for Young People"?

Often we hear "What do you mean by Theatre for Young People?" or "Do children perform in your shows?" or even "So it's just for kids?"

These are all great questions! 

Kaleidoscope Theatre for Young People is a professional theatre company that presents theatre for young audiences. Theatre for young audiences (TYA) is a sector within the Canadian and international scope of theatre creation and practice which is managed, presented and performed by adult professionals for children, teens, young adults and families.

As a member of the Professional Association of Canadian Theatres (PACT), Kaleidoscope engages professional artists who are members of Canadian Actors’ Equity Association under the terms of the Canadian Theatre Agreement. Kaleidoscope productions are performed by professional adult actors performing for children and their families.

If you attend a Kaleidoscope event and the performers are all children, then that is a program of our theatre school, The Kaleidoscope Performing Arts Studio. At our Performing Arts Studio children and youth ages 3-18 can participate in weekly classes, camps, and workshops in all areas of performing arts including musical theatre, acting, and voice.

More about Theatre for Young Audiences in Canada

Theatre for Young People has an enormous and diverse reach and impact 

– In a small sample of nine professional TYA companies from across Canada, they collectively reached 416,670 individuals in one year. 

– TYA companies often tour beyond major urban centres and extensively reach rural areas where schools and centres are located.

– TYA is often a child’s first theatre experience. 

– TYA’s model ensures access to shows, regardless of location and socio-economic status. 

–  TYA tours regionally, nationally and internationally by land, sea and air. In a small sample of five TYA companies, they collectively travelled 127,990km in one year. 

 TYA practitioners have an immense respect for young audiences 

– Audiences are considered at every phase of the artistic process – development, creation and performance – which includes a high degree of audience consultation and workshopping. 

– Artistic development considers the various stages of emotional and mental development for every age. TYA respects these stages through the work’s complexity and quality. 

– Because TYA reaches multiple ages, TYA builds not one canon of works, but several that span genre, format, traditional and contemporary. 

– TYA often commissions and develops new Canadian work, respecting Canadian stories and ensuring contemporary relevance to young audiences. 

– TYA does not create educational content, but rather considers their audiences by responding to and extracting from regional/provincial curriculum connections. These connections can shift from year to year. 

– TYA is emotionally and mentally transformative. For example, TYA can help strengthen relationships, improve emotional intelligence, and open up conversations about difficult yet important topics (see this article from the Irish News) 

– Many TYA shows build longevity and shows can tour for multiple years. This leads to a level of sector sustainability, while still being able to take risks in the creation of new work. 

– TYA theatres benefit from responsive and imaginary audiences. In interacting with audiences in close proximity, TYA receives immediate and participatory feedback from attendees. 

Across Canada, TYA is presented in many diverse venues 

– Some TYA companies manage and present on a mainstage, while some present on a mainstage and tour, while some exclusively tour as their core operations and programming. The venue and box office realities vary based on the company’s mission and their regional context. 

– TYA work is often technically challenging for actors, directors and stage managers, needing a level of adaptation for different spaces, audiences and ideas. The productions grow and are refined each time it is performed. 


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