I’ve had this really great opportunity to work with a non-profit called Ptarmigan Music and Theatre Society. They are situated on Pender Island in BC. My beautiful wife KJ has been working with them for a few years now, doing social media marketing, teaching arts workshops, ect. This past February I had a chance to teach a musical theatre workshop, as well as a collaboration with Live Out Loud Theatre, and Sask Association For Community Living, on an arts workshop for kids with Autism. The really neat part was I had a chance to visit Pender Island, then help an existing Autism group in Moose Jaw, my home town. It can get complicated working across provinces and with 3 different groups. We split the time very well.
The work involved with the Pender Island workshop was straight forward. I had 7 girls involved in my class, they were all very good and eager to perform. I have to say it’s so lovely teaching groups of people who really want to be there. We did a scene and a number from the musical White Christmas called “Sisters”. I had three days, and then they performed it for their community school performance evening. I split the scene into a group of girls with different characters, and split the song so that they all had solos. I had a harder time with the choreography, and that’s when my wife KJ helped out. I had it mostly down, but I needed that little extra pop that only she could advise. I have to say that they did really well, and the audience loved it. I was really happy with their work, and the performance was great.
Coming back home to Moose Jaw we had a bit of time for last-minute changes to our Autism workshop. KJ had been auditing the group for the month while I was away on contract in Kamloops. Previously, we had initial meetings with groups from Regina and Moose Jaw. As well, we had to do a lot of research regarding Autism and arts facilitation for groups with Autism. There are groups in the US doing great work with similar goals. This is a new frontier for us and Live Out Loud Theatre, and we worked really hard coming up with a workshop that we hoped would go over well. We had 2 groups of kids, with an equal number of mentors. The age range between the groups were between 8 -14.
It was very scary. I think we did really well. The same group in Moose Jaw has expressed interest in bringing us back to do some similar arts facilitation this summer at their Autism camp. Needless to say, Ptarmigan is pleased:)
I love teaching kids, it’s something I’m passionate about, and I’m good at it as well. I can think like kids…maybe because I am just a big kid. Or maybe it’s because they are all very honest and curious and I connect with that type of energy.