Many of my earliest memories and many of my “firsts” include YPT. When I was very young, my Dad directed and choreographed several YPT shows and the memory of being in that magical building is palpable. I remember the downstairs snack bar and giant chocolate chip cookies and cucumber sandwiches, which must have been served during the run of Alice. I remember the day my Dad gave me my beautiful hand-made Alice doll, created by the production’s designer. I remember seeing Jacob Two-Two Meets the Hooded Fang for the first time and wanting so badly to be the heroic Intrepid Shapiro. I remember fashioning a cape out of a blanket and proudly wearing the Child Power button I got at the theatre. Decades later, my dream came true when Allen MacInnis cast me in the role of Emma/Intrepid Shapiro in his production of Jacob Two-Two. This launched my Toronto acting career, as it was the job that brought me back to the city after graduating from theatre school – my first professional acting job in Toronto. It also began my relationship with YPT as a grownup. Over the years, YPT has provided me with artistic and professional growth, some of the most meaningful theatrical experiences of my career, opportunities to travel across the country – my first visits to Vancouver, Edmonton and Winnipeg. Through YPT I have developed a great number of lasting friendships I cherish to this day. And when my daughter Mia was a year and a half, I brought her to see her first play (Seussical) at YPT. Cataloguing these memories makes me realize how much of myself has been informed by this very special institution, and the inspiring friends and colleagues whom I’ve met within its walls. From my first memories of going to the theatre with my family, to becoming an actor and artist-educator, to developing and running theatre education programming for youth with my own company, to becoming a mother and delighting in each opportunity to bring my children to theatre – these memories all trace back to YPT. Happy 50th anniversary, YPT! Thank you for a lifetime of memories and I look forward to the many memories we will continue to make together.
With deepest gratitude, love and admiration, Jessica Greenberg
My… where to begin. My relationship with YPT began in 2009. As a directing Apprentice with Obsidian Theatre, a key element to the apprenticeship was fostering connections with outside companies. I was brought on board as Apprentice Director of The Princess and the Handmaiden. I’ll never forget that first morning, the only person there not greeting old friends with hugs, and wondering if I’d ever feel as comfortable in that room as they did. To be part of a team that included not only a director, but a musical director and choreographer, meant that there wasn’t much space for my input. I watched, and listened. Intently. Allen and I had meetings and the more I shared my thoughts, the more interested he became in them. I slowly felt my role morph from observant apprentice to participatory Assistant Director who had the respect of my Director. I felt that respect grow in the Spring of 2011 when I was invited to co-direct Would You Say The Name Of This Play? (an incredible experience), as well as to become a Resident Artist Educator for part of the season.
It is impossible to not be enriched as a RAE. Working with children is always a joy but doing it for YPT and using the theatre’s programming as a tool for exploration and communication is a gift. Whether leading an educational workshop, a drama program for ESL toddlers, or a post-show Q&A, the common thread is witnessing first-hand how theatre can open children and youth up. In some cases the victory is simply getting a shy child to stand up and shout her name. In others, it’s seeing a 17-year old boy’s tough exterior soften before your eyes. The breakthroughs are big and small, but always rewarding. There are moments indelibly etched in my memory. One was having a young Islamic girl say during a Q&A that although raised with homophobia, she would be kind to gay people because she imagined being made fun of for being gay to be similar to how she felt being made fun of for wearing a hijab. Even writing about it now makes my eyes well up. There were many moments like this, in which something in a production triggered children to share insight — sometimes humorous and sometimes searing — that made me think: “YES. They GOT it.”
YPT was part of a major milestone for me when I made my solo directing debut for a professional Mainstage production with The Power of Harriet T! The enormity of faith that Allen showed, handing me the reins to the Mainstage after having only co-directed for The Studio, still moves me. It was invaluable and seeing the impact it made on thousands of students is something I’ll never forget. Every moment I spend in that building inspires and fuels me; I can say that about very few places. The walls are pulsing with positivity. Everyone there believes in wonder, and in children. It is magical. It feels like home.
– Tanisha Taitt
Reflecting on my twenty seven years at YPT, when every day was a story, has made me realize what a major influence YPT had on my life. It afforded me the extraordinary opportunity to associate and work directly with so many creative and talented people. In particular the wonderful Drama School teachers and staff whose good work and creativity I had the honour and pleasure to encourage and foster. But, most importantly, the opportunity to encourage all those young people who took classes at YPT to explore their creativity and hopefully to touch their lives in some positive way. I wish YPT another 50 years in this important mission.
I wish YPT another 50 years in this important mission.