We already knew the courtyard side and the garden side. With the pandemic, there has been and henceforth there will be the virtual side. At least, with regard to theater for young audiences, thanks to a partnership between the École en Réseau (EER) and the Maison Théâtre de Montréal.
A broadcaster specializing in theater for children and young people since 1984, the Maison Théâtre has not stopped its activities despite the pandemic. In addition to the various digital activities on offer, such as “Scenes to play”, the Montreal organization also offered workshops.
Since October 2020, more than 700 workshops, including 40 % in virtual format, have reached some 13,500 students from 149 different schools across Quebec. A large part of the workshops were held thanks to an agreement with the ERA.
“The EER allowed us to be in touch with people accustomed to digital technology and virtual exchanges,” underlines Manon Claveau, school development coordinator and theatrical mediator at Maison Théâtre.
Lise Cayouette, teacher at Maria in Gaspésie and resource teacher within the EER, believes that the grouping of schools in a network has "many values in common" with the Maison Théâtre. Starting with the desire to develop in children the skills of spectators, that is to say to place oneself in an open position, to be attentive and to "listen better to the other", be it a a stage actor, a teacher in front of the class or a classmate.
Keys in hand
In all, around 100 workshops were held through the EER network. The participating classes were able to benefit from the services offered by the Maison Théâtre which were, each time, adapted according to the target audience.
Each workshop included extracts from shows as well as various video clips explaining how to bring objects to life, for example, to make puppets. Others focused on the different professions surrounding the world of theater, on the memory game of the expert spectator, etc.
The extracts from plays, for example, relied on a philosophical reflection for adolescents, who had to show courage, curiosity or perseverance to clear new territories of thought. For the young people of the 3e at the 6e year, the emphasis was on objects and dreams to develop students' imaginations. There is even a workshop for early childhood centers.
Concerned that the teachers have nothing to prepare, the digital workshops of the Maison Théâtre, lasting 50 minutes, were designed with a concern to "democratize the exchange, to listen to the other and to promote living together ”, explains the cultural mediator.
According to Lise Cayouette and Manon Claveau, they “are easy and pleasant” to live with and they have everything to offer students and their teacher “a little bubble of happiness”.