The WeeFestival Announces its 2021 Online Edition May 17 -24, 2021
Children in classrooms and living rooms across Toronto and beyond will experience a sparkling stream of theatre, music, dance, puppetry, and performance from around the world in a programme that promises to inspire and stimulate young imaginations. In between playtime and outdoor fun, the WeeFestival offers children and their families a daily dose of nourishing arts and culture!
The line-up of shows recommended for children 3 years and up includes A Bucket of Beetles from Papermoon Puppet Theatre (Indonesia) a breathtaking journey through a rainforest based on a story told by a 5 year old-boy, Cyclo from Aranwa Company (Chile) a musical and visual feast celebrating the cycles of life and seasons, and My Silly Yum, from Gabriela Petrov and Alexandra Montagnese (Montreal), a tabletop puppet show about mushroom picking! The programme also includes two shows originally scheduled for the 2020 festival Taama (Belgium/Burkina Faso) in which friendship is forged across cultures through music, and The Cozy One-Man Band (France/Argentina), where astonishing experimental puppetry meets virtuosic music concert.
Past festival favourites now in quality recorded form are also featured, including the aerial circus treat Tweet Tweet from Femmes du Feu (Canada), the mesmerizing water-themed performance installation H2O from Helios Theatre (Germany) and heartwarming and hilarious Old Man and the River (Canada) which will return on screen for the holiday weekend after its successful digital tour to festivals in Canada and the U.S.
In addition to the featured programming, the festival will offer The Grass Films, a double bill of dance on film and series of sensory films from Second Hand Dance in the U.K, created especially for children with Special Educational needs while DreamScape at Home from India’s ThinkArts invites parents to create sensory environments for their young children.
“I’ve carefully selected performances that truly fill the screen with rich sights and sounds and that offer inventive, visual theatrical storytelling that is both accessible and that honours the capacities of children to engage with sophisticated artistic proposals. The shows also have themes relevant to young children including caring and respect for the natural world, friendship across cultures, expressing and communicating without words, and the cycles of life and the seasons.” Lynda Hill, Artistic Director
The online edition of the WeeFestival offers interesting “behind the scenes” segments with the artists of the festival and host Derek Kwan including a virtual tour through the puppetry studio of Papermoon Puppet Theatre in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. Lua Shayenne will share the audio story of Yassama and the Beaded Calabash, Krysta Sero will host Kawennanótha with Krysta, where children are introduced to a different picture book each day by an Indigenous author, and finally, children at home or with their class are invited to create their own theatres and explore and share the magic of the theatre, puppetry, and storytelling with the Pizza Box Theatre Club guided by Derek Kwan.
Accessibility and Inclusion
With shows between 20 and 45 minutes in length and the freedom to pause and take a break, or replay, all children can truly have an up-close and relaxed streaming experience while taking in the rich content offered in the festival. In addition to the comfort, freedom and flexibility that the digital format offers the WeeFestival will offer Neurodiverse audiences Visual Stories to support the feature performances and the overall festival experience. For d/Deaf and Hard of Hearing audiences, the festival will provide transcripts, captioning and ASL interpretation for pre-show and post-show content (featured performances are wordless with the exception of Cyclo which has a number of songs in Spanish with English subtitles). Finally, Old Man and the River is available with Audio Description for Blind and Low Vision children and their families,
Conference sessions will also have ASL and Captioning available.
Just as the festival performances will move online, so will the annual conference featuring inspiring keynote speakers, panel discussions, and “Spotlight” interviews featuring leading artists creating work for the most underserved young audiences-babies and young people with developmental disabilities. Studies in Performance Practice will return again this year for post-secondary theatre studies students and artists and Creative Skills for the Kindergarten Classroom workshop series for Early Childhood Educators generously sponsored by CUPE 4400 Toronto Education Workers.
A Play a Day Programme for Kindergarten/Grade 1 Students
This year, the WeeFestival will engage thousands of Kindergarten students with a 5-show programme entitled “A Play a Day!” designed to offer children an inspiring theatrical trip around the world with 5 plays over 5 days. The package, priced at less than $1 a day per student, is designed to ensure as many children can participate as possible. Despite the accessible price, there will still be many schools that won’t be able to afford the programme, therefore the WeeFestival is encouraging patrons to consider purchasing a package on behalf of a class through its giving program or when purchasing a festival pass.
Additional Programming To Be Announced
The finishing touches are still being put on the 2021 edition with more online events including concerts and dance parties. There may also be a handful of outdoor events but these are waiting in the wings until confirmed should public health regulations permit.
Passes giving 8 days full access to all festival shows from May 17 -24 are available on a sliding scale from $50 -$150 with a number of $25 dollar passes for Parents who are Arts Workers or who are Under-Employed. Passes available here
Play a Day Packages are $125 per class for 5 shows and 5 days of streaming with discounts on bookings of 4 classes or more. Contact email@example.com to book or visit the schools page on the WeeFestival website.
The WeeFestival is grateful for the generous support of The Department of Canadian Heritage through the Arts Presentation Canada Program, The Canada Council for the Arts, Toronto Foundation through the Lentilberry Fund and CUPE 400 -Toronto Education Workers.
Additional funding from the Goethe-Institut Toronto and the Embassy of the Government of France supports the presentation of H2O from Helios Theatre and The Cozy One-Man Band from Cie La Mue/tte.
The WeeFestival is grateful to Theatre français de Toronto, its Francophone Programme partner.
For more information contact