Vehicles fill the little parking lot at Surrey Little Theatre, where summer camps proved popular. (File photo: Tom Zillich)

MINTY: Fall schooling for ‘Theatre Trolls’ and more at Surrey Little Theatre

Clayton-area company has a full slate of youth drama programs for 2018

By Melanie Minty, arts columnist

As the end of August rolls around, we hear the heralding of school songs calling kids back to school. Ah, such a symphony.

But it is not just “regular” school that beckons. We look to enrol our future stars in something outside school hours. Soccer, hockey and other sports are, of course, always popular. Participating as part of a team is so important in creating confidence, testing talent and learning how to get along with others. Go team!

There are classes for the creatively inclined as well. Dance is definitely athletic and demanding, and music lessons or joining a choral group is a positive and productive learning experience. Then there are those who crave more drama in their lives.

Surrey Little Theatre has a full slate of youth drama programs for 2018. The summer camps were very popular, and Linda McRae is happy to extend these programs into fall. These programs are being somewhat subsidized by Surrey Little Theatre, so parents of drama-loving kids can fit these 10-week-long adventures into the family budget.

“Theatre Trolls” is designed for those aged six to 11. Get on stage, use costumes, props, learn mime and theatre games. The session ends with a final performance for family and friends, plus a certificate. These fun classes are on Wednesdays starting Sept. 12, from 4 to 5 p.m. The cost is $100.

The “Lights, Camera, Action – Improv!” session is designed for ages 12 to 16 and also runs on Wednesdays beginning Sept. 12, but the time is different. This teen program runs from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Here, they’ll improve stage savvy with theatre games, improvisation and role play. Again, the cost is $100.

What a way to start this new season of schooling. For more information or registration, email the theatre company at info@surreylittletheatre.com. It’s a community theatre and run on volunteer power. If you enrol kids in theatre camps, consider volunteering to support the theatre. Most of the jobs are not on stage, but do involve people skills.

Surrey Little Theatre still sits atop Clayton Hill, at 7027 184th Street, as it has since 1967 when Clayton United Church was purchased by a group wishing to create an intimate theatre space. After the first production, the building was declared non-conforming for shows. The founders of SLT dedicated themselves to raising funds and renovating. Productions were re-established in 1973.

The next chapter in the life of SLT is in the making, as population and housing developments are crowding this historic building off its hilltop. No worries. This little theatre has a big heart, and may have to find a new location in the next few years. But, as they say in the business, the show must go on!

The next season for SLT starts with Beer for Breakfast, staged from Oct. 18 to Nov. 17 and directed by fan-favorite Pat McDermott. I like Pat. He has a long list of achievements in community theatre, we named our daughters with the same name and we both enrolled them in dance at an early age. Kindred thespian spirits – with a nod to Terpsicore, the muse of dance.

Beer for Breakfast involves men, one accidental woman, beer and a snowed-in cabin, the site of a “guys weekend.” Warning, there is some adult language and content. Ah, just like real life. There are two more plays that make up the season, plus a youth performance at Christmas (possibly). The little historic building that houses Surrey Little Theatre is active almost every night of the week with other things theatre-related – play reading, set building, meetings, rehearsals, youth drama classes, painting, cleaning and restocking the concession area. Life in the theatre is oh-so-glamorous. Season tickets for SLT’s three-play season are on sale now at surreylittletheatre.com, with Night Watch and Sealed for Freshness also featured this coming season.

Much like SLT, White Rock Players’ Club has its own theatre space and provides a full season of plays from the club itself, but also provides some much needed theatre space for other community and semi-professional theatre events. WRPC has affectionately named their new season “Something to Laugh About.”

The lineup includes Harvey, by Mary Chase (Oct. 10-27). The 1944 play, about a man and his imaginary friend, has never been performed in this theatre, “and we couldn’t be happier to have Harvey in our building,” says a post on the theatre company’s website (whiterockplayers.ca).

The comedy continues with the panto Robin Hood and the Skytrain of Doom, by Dann Wilhelm, in December. Wilhelm, a star of community theatre locally, has been having the time of his life in London, England this summer. I can’t wait to see if Sherwood Forest survives the Skytrain expansion. This comedy may be a hot topic by December, with the parallel real story of Surrey city council clearing the forest of affordable homes to expand transit by building a rail line. Tense.

Season passes for White Rock Players – all their shows are at Coast Capital Playhouse – are also available now. It’s community theatre at its best, right here in our community. Odd isn’t it how much we learn about real life by pretending. Art reflects life? Gotta think about that.

Melanie Minty writes twice monthly for the Now-Leader. She can be reached at melminty@telus.net.

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