New Ottawa Children’s Theatre to offer acting classes, life skills

The new Ottawa Children’s Theatre will offer aspiring young thesps extensive acting training – skills that will help them both on and off stage.

“The work that we’re doing is really helping kids to learn some really important life skills that will be with them the rest of their lives,” says Amanda West Lewis, the theatre’s artistic director.

Partnering with The Acting Company – which offers adult performance training – the Ottawa Children’s Theatre’s classes will be held in the newly renovated Avalon Theatre at 738 Bank St., in the Glebe.

Young theatre fans will learn how to create characters, use their voices and bodies, and understand language and text.

Lewis has lined up two instructors – actor Kristina Watt and artistic director Kate Smith – and is in the process of finding a third. Fall semester classes will run from Sept. 21 to Nov. 30.

In addition to training, the company also develops original plays for children and youth. A stage adaptation of Canadian author Brian Doyle’s Up to Low is slated for production in 2014/15.

Lewis has what she calls a “portfolio career, a stylish way of saying that I’ve done a lot of different things.” She has been an actor, director, calligrapher, and writer, to handpick just a few. Her husband, Tim Wynne-Jones, is an award-winning author of children’s literature. Lewis’ own youth novel, September 17, is being published this fall.

The company will offer theatregoers a chance to meet the instructors and tour the newly renovated space at an open house on Aug. 25 from 2 to 4 p.m., marking the official launch of the Ottawa Children’s Theatre.