Young actors learn tricks of the theatre trade during an acting camp hosted by Royal Canadian Theatre Company in 2014. (File photo)

New PlayWorkers company in Surrey to teach teens about theatre

Saturday-afternoon sessions to start Sept. 7 at City Parkway studio

A new PlayWorkers Youth Theatre Company has been launched in Surrey to teach teens about all aspects of theatre.

The organization will stage Saturday-afternoon sessions at the 10660 City Parkway studio in Whalley, starting on Sept. 7.

The space is operated by Royal Canadian Theatre Company, a partner in the PlayWorker initiative led by Crystal Weltzin, a longtime member of the Ellie King-founded theatre company.

The program is billed as “a great club for kids to learn about theatre, make new friends and create original work,” according to a post on Royal Canadian’s website (rctheatreco.com).

The sessions at City Parkway will run from 4 to 6 p.m. Saturdays for a three-month term, until Nov. 24, with more dates planned in 2019. The fee is $150 for registrants, who must be in the 13-to-18 age range.

Members of the youth company will learn about set construction, lighting and sound design, marketing, acting and creative writing, among other topics. After three months, they’ll end the term with an original show they’ve built.

Weltzin said she’s eager to lead Surrey-area youth through the leaps and bounds of becoming a theatre company, and shares King’s passion for the project.

“This type of youth group wasn’t available in Surrey when I was growing up, and I had to travel to Langley or Vancouver for arts classes that were specific to one subject,” she noted.

(STORY CONTINUES BELOW VIDEO)

Meanwhile, Royal Canadian is working to bring three shows to stages in Surrey and New Westminster during its 2018-19 season.

The company will produce a version of Joseph Kesselring’s “Arsenic and Old Lace” for dates at Surrey Arts Centre on Oct. 26 and 27, with additional shows at New West’s Anvil Centre from Oct. 17 to 20.

“A classic black-comedy and a Broadway hit starring Boris Karloff before it was adapted for film with Cary Grant, for our version we have reunited the ‘Terrible Trio’ – Jaqueline Becher, Michael Charrois and Steve Weller – who were the extremely odd cousins in our version of ‘Dark and Stormy Night,’” notes a post at rctheatreco.com.

“This time they are two dotty sisters and their very scary and menacing nephew who comes to visit, complete with his crazy sidekick plastic surgeon. Bodies all over the place, the Panama canal being dug in the basement, another nephew who thinks he’s Teddy Roosevelt, and a cop who wants to be a playwright – just a few of the zany happenings in this perfect Hallowe’en treat.”

Later in the year, a traditional British panto called “Hansel, Gretel & the Strolling Players” will hit the stage at Surrey Arts Centre from Dec. 18 to 30, and at Massey Theatre on Jan. 4 and 5.

Also on the company’s calendar is Dave Freeman’s “A Bedfull of Foreigners,” to be staged at Surrey Arts Centre and Anvil Centre next March.

• RELATED STORY: Streetrich Hip Hop Society leaving Surrey’s City Parkway Studio.

In July, due to “lack of funding, an actual operational budget, and the lack of support,” Streetrich Hip Hop Society announced it was moving out of the City Parkway space the Burnaby-based group had shared with Royal Canadian Theatre Company for about a year. The 2,500-square-foot studio, a former auto shop, was officially opened by the City of Surrey in June 2017 with the aim of being an arts hub with a youth focus.

“Nothing’s changing for us, unless we hear otherwise,” King said in July. “We’re two separate groups and they had their sessions and drop-in events, and we had our rehearsals and building events. If anything is going to change going forward, that’s the city’s decision.”

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