Projects & Partnerships
Collaboration and research are central to the work of our Education and Participation Department. We have the privilege of partnering with a variety of community organizations, universities, academics, teachers and arts education organizations to create and implement our educational programming and to learn more about the value and role of YPT in arts education in Canada.
We continue to work in partnership with York University, the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto, and Brock University to develop resources for teachers and students.
As members of PAONE, the Professional Arts Organizations Network for Education, we work in community to ensure the accessibility of high quality arts experiences for all Canadians, especially young people.
We are committed to learning here at YPT and this is reflected in our engagement with research. We aim to continue our participation in research throughout the organization and in partnership with others in order to inform our current artistic and educational practices.
Our Research Projects
Stratford Festival’s Forum and Play! A Symposium in connection with the World Festival of Children’s Theatre
YPT Artistic Director Allen MacInnis wrote and delivered a speech entitled “Hope is the Antidote” as part of the Stratford Festival’s Forum and Play Symposium on June 12, 2016.
“As a former drama teacher – a background I share with our young Prime Minister, I am proud to say – I have always enjoyed watching young people re-invent theatre. Their discoveries – new or not – remind longtime theatre practitioners like me that theatre must always be reinvented…” Read more here.
Research in Drama Education: The Journal of Applied Theatre and Performance
This refereed journal is for those interested in arts education, theatre, research and policy. It looks at research and practice in a variety of contexts internationally. YPT’s Associate Artistic Director, Education, Karen Gilodo and Member Schools & Education Manager, Lois Adamson are published in the current issue (Volume 1, Issue 2, 2016).
Research with the Department of Occupational Science & Occupational Therapy at the University of Toronto, conducted by Christian Blake and Katherine McDonald, graduate students in the MScOT Program
In celebrating our 50th Anniversary, YPT’s Drama School will be the focus of a qualitative research study exploring the influence of theatre on the lives of young people, ages 10 to 21. The study is being conducted by two occupational therapy graduate students, Christian Blake and Katherine McDonald, from the Department of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy at the University of Toronto.
If alumni or students are interested in participating in an interview about their experiences in theatre and how it has shaped their daily life please contact Christian and Katherine at YPTresearch@gmail.com, or 416.946.7130.
Drama participation and life engagement: Understanding the activity repertoires of young people involved in theatre
Participation in drama has been shown to produce positive psychological, behavioural, educational, and social outcomes for young people (e.g., Hughes & Wilson, 2007; McLauchlan & Winters, 2014). However, as they age, youth often demonstrate reduced participation in and disengagement from meaningful extracurricular activities (Jarus, Anaby, Bart, Engel-Teger, & Law, 2010), such as drama, possibly resulting in decreased positive outcomes and constrained or imbalanced activity repertoires. Activity repertoires are defined as the constellation of an individual’s meaningful activities at a point in time (Davis & Polatajko, 2010). Exploring changes in the activity repertoires of young people who have participated in drama programs can inform the understanding of how and why young people continue or discontinue their engagement in meaningful activities, such as drama. Thus, the purpose of this study is to uncover insights about the activity repertoires of young people who have engaged in drama and the elements that shape their repertoires. This in-progress study employs a qualitative interpretive design involving youth, ages 10 to 21 years, who have participated in extracurricular drama programming in an urban drama school. Data is being collected using individual narrative interviews informed by co-constructed activity timelines. Braun and Clarke’s (2006) methods for thematic analysis will be used to interpret the data and construct themes. Findings will produce a deeper understanding of the activity repertoires of young people, thus contributing to the literature—regarding elements that shape young people’s activity participation—in a way that can inform future research, program policy and design, and clinical practice.
Christian Blake holds a BSc in kinesiology (honours) from the University of Ottawa. His research interests are focused on children and youth theatre participation and how it shapes other domains of their lives. Christian is also a children’s educator at the Royal Ontario Museum where he invites students to engage in play-based, explorative learning about dinosaurs, medieval knights, Canadian exploration, and everything in between.
Katherine McDonald holds a BA in psychology (honours) from York University. She is a graduate of Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet School Professional Program and has danced in Canada, Europe, and New Zealand. Now retired from dance, Katherine continues her involvement with the arts, both personally and academically. Her undergraduate thesis research was undertaken at Canada’s National Ballet School, and her current research focuses on children and youth theatre participation.
Learning From Children’s Theatre by Jennifer Andersen, paper presented at the 8th International Drama in Education Research Institute at the National Institute of Education, Singapore (2015)
Jennifer Andersen is a performer and theatre maker with a special interest in early years’ arts. She is currently a PhD candidate at the Melbourne Graduate School of Education (The University of Melbourne). Jennifer is also the coordinator of the artist learning program at ArtPlay a children’s art space in Melbourne, Australia.
Research with the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, conducted by Claire Hage, a graduate student in the Master of Teaching Program (Upcoming: 2015/16)
Claire Hage (MT Candidate), in her second year of the Master of Teaching program in the Primary/Junior level, believes that children’s creativity needs to be acknowledged and promoted and that theatre is a great tool to facilitate it. She would say that theatre runs through her veins – she vividly remembers her first experience in a professional theatre when she was in Kindergarten and knows how resonating that experience can be for a child. Now that she is pursuing further studies in education, she can see how these two worlds – education and professional theatre – have great potential to work together. Claire feels fortunate to be able to work with an institution like YPT and to learn about how their Member Schools program is building stronger relationships with schools in the Toronto area. She hopes that her research will provide practical solutions to strengthen the relationship between schools and professional theatre companies.
Research with the Department of Occupational Science & Occupational Therapy at the University of Toronto, conducted by Joanne Lui and Kristina Toma, graduate students in the MScOT Program (2014/15)
This study was done by two graduate student researchers in the Department of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy at the University of Toronto with the Drama School at Young People’s Theatre (YPT) as their research site. The following is a summary of their academic research.
At YPT, we are excited by what we have learned through this research project. Though small in scale, this project has helped us to better understand why young people choose to participate in our Drama School and how their experiences at the theatre are a part of their lives more broadly. It has also allowed us to expand the kinds of research conducted here at YPT and to look at our work in child development through the lens of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy.
A couple of things to keep in mind when reading the Executive Summary: This is just a glimpse of the research. Should you wish to read the research paper in full, you can find it here. It was an ethical requirement that the youth participants remain anonymous. You will notice that those who are quoted are named using pseudonyms which they chose themselves.
Read the Executive Summary here.
If you would like to learn more about this study, our other projects or how to become involved in research at YPT, please contact: Member Schools & Education Manager, Lois Adamson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Community Consultation and Engagement Project (2011/12)
This summary outlines the key findings of the research that came out of our partnership with the Leslieville Parent Resource and provides greater insight into the benefits and challenges of an initiative such as this, as well as recommendations for future research and next steps for further programming. We are thrilled to share what we have learned through this partnership and we hope that this research will inform current practice and will serve as a starting point for future inquiry.
YPT’s Community Consultation and Engagement Project was made possible with the support of the Ontario Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport through the Cultural Strategic Initiative Fund (CSIF). This project was designed to:
- Gain a better understanding of the various developmental stages of different age groups with a particular focus on early childhood development up to age six.
- Consult with communities on the development of new age-specific programming.
- Have artist-educators provide workshops to new communities introducing them to the positive impact that theatre and the arts can have on the social, emotional, and intellectual development of youth.
- Consult with new communities to gain a better understanding of how our activities and programming can/do address their needs
- Expand awareness of and reduce barriers to our arts education and arts programming to communities that would not normally be aware of or be able to participate in those activities.
- Introducing new and diverse audiences to our facility, programming and activities through this meaningful engagement.
Research with the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, conducted by Lois Adamson, a graduate student in the Curriculum Studies and Teacher Development Program (2010/11)
MA Thesis: Why bring students to the theatre? An exploration of the value of professional theatre for children
The purpose of this research was to learn why teachers bring their students to live theatre, specifically at YPT, Canada’s oldest and largest professional theatre for young audiences (TYA). This research supports existing scholarship on the educative value of the live theatre experience, including its potential to enhance both academic and social learning outcomes, such as greater creativity, critical thinking, and communication skills, as well as improved knowledge of the theatrical medium. This project suggests that teachers use a fieldtrip to YPT as a unique pedagogical tool and a special way of engaging their students in learning. Examining the educative value of the theatrical event has resulted in many discoveries, including the following key findings, which will be shared in greater detail in this summary. These new insights add to the body of research on arts-based education and set the stage for further inquiry into teaching and learning through theatre.