YOUNG PEOPLE’S THEATRE (YPT) is Canada’s largest and oldest professional theatre for young people. The company produces and presents a full season of theatre and arts education programming, serving approximately 150,000 patrons annually.

In 2022, YPT launched the next stage in the company’s storied history, co-led by Artistic Director Herbie Barnes, and Executive Director Nancy Webster. This new era also marks the unveiling of YPT’s expanded and renovated theatre complex, more than 10 years in the making. With the purchase of a multi-use building across the street from its historic theatre, YPT has expanded its footprint, increased its accessibility, refreshed its lobbies, and upgraded the theatrical equipment capabilities of its 433-seat Ada Slaight Stage and 115-seat Studio. United in vision, the two facilities now anchor the corner of Front and Frederick Streets in downtown Toronto creating Canada’s largest theatre complex for young people.

Over the past 58 years, YPT has staged many of the most important plays that form the canon of work for youth in our country. YPT continues to develop new work and create partnerships with theatre companies across the country and around the world. But that’s not all. The enriched learning experiences of YPT’s Education & Participation Department provide young people with opportunities to develop their whole being.

Through our educational initiatives in Toronto classrooms, Drama School programs in two locations in the GTA, and training and apprenticeship opportunities, we place learning at the centre of everything we do. At YPT we strive for a positive and lasting impact on the emotional, social, and intellectual development of young people – giving them the chance to grow into the unique and wonderful people they were born to be.

Theatre for Young People, not by Young People

Funnily enough, sometimes people presume that YPT casts children in its productions. In reality, we hire professional actors to perform in all of our shows – 99% of whom are adults. In fact, over the past 50 years, some of the biggest names in Canadian theatre have graced our Mainstage. We decided to clarify this misconception with this video. Enjoy.

Professional Theatre and So Much More

Take a look at the scope of YPT’s work onstage and beyond.

See more videos about YPT here.

Herbie Barnes

Artistic Director

An Anishinaabe theatre artist from Aundeck Omni Kaning First Nation on Manitoulin Island, Herbie is an accomplished playwright, performer, director and arts educator whose 30-year-career spans stages across North America. Herbie was raised in Toronto and was among the generation of young Indigenous artists in the 1990s breaking down barriers to forge professional careers in Canadian theatre. His theatre career began in 1989 with Debajehmujig Theatre Group, touring Ontario with the first run of Drew Hayden Taylor’s Toronto at Dreamer’s Rock. Since then he has collaborated with some of North America’s most prestigious stages – whether appearing in productions such as Dry Lips Oughta Move to Kapuskasing (Mirvish – Royal Alexandra Theatre) or collaborating with the Stratford Festival on development workshops. He was nominated for a John Hirsch Director’s Award and his new play, Bentboy, was shortlisted for the Sharon Enkin Plays for Young People Award in 2020. Learn more about Herbie here.

Nancy J. Webster

Executive Director

Nancy has a wide range of experience in senior management, including as the Managing Director, English Theatre at Canada’s National Arts Centre. She served for 13 years on the Executive of the Professional Association of Canadian Theatres (PACT), including as its volunteer President. Nancy’s resume includes experience as the Producer of the Toronto Fringe Festival, Managing Director of Factory Theatre and LKTYP and a grants officer for the Trillium Foundation. She has received the Vital People Award from the Toronto Community Foundation, the Victor Polley Award for Arts Administration, and the Harold Award for contributions to the Toronto theatre community. In 2016, Nancy was honoured with both the Mallory Gilbert Leadership Award from PACT and the Leonard McHardy and John Harvey Award from the Toronto Alliance for the Performing Arts. This marked the first time these two awards, each recognizing outstanding leadership in administration, were presented to the same individual in a single season. She has served as a consultant to the George Cedric Metcalf Foundation and as a member of the Cultural Strategic Advisory for the provincial Minister of Culture. Most recently, over the pandemic years, she led a $13.5 million expansion and renovation of Young People’s Theatre, creating Canada largest, state-of-the-art theatre complex for young people.