My experience at Stagecraft was the first time I realized how good it felt to step outside of my comfort zone.
I gained confidence in so many aspects of my life: on stage, at home, in school and most importantly in myself!
My daughter attended StageCraft classes from age 5 to 8. She loved the acting, singing, and dancing, the semester-end shows, and especially the wonderful instructors who made everything possible. Rachel knew every child and made them feel special by involving them in their characters and developing their talents. In grade 11, just after giving a big presentation, my daughter remarked,
“I never could have done this without StageCraft.”
It truly instills confidence and prepares them for whatever they want to be.
Stagecraft not only gave me the confidence and skills I needed to be a better performer, but tools that I use in my everyday life.
My daughters, Georgia and Layla attended Stagecraft Theatre School at the Scotia Dance Centre in Vancouver from approx 2004-2008. They loved the experience and it clearly made an impression as they are now 16 and back in Drama School (in the UK) and loving it. Rachel was the driving force behind the school in Vancouver. Her enthusiasm, talent and love of what she was did was plain to see and very inspirational. Her entire family were also involved in the business and that created a very welcoming and loving atmosphere for the kids and the parents to enjoy. Given the age of the students the performances themselves were pretty impressive and always entertaining, with Rachel’s enthusiastic direction/leadership keeping the whole thing together.
If the program in Ottawa is anything like the one in Vancouver, I would not hesitate to recommend it to anyone.
I had the immense pleasure of being a dance instructor for Stagecraft, there was so much fulfilment in watching the children grow in confidence and building strength of character. Stagecraft is such a happy, creative and fun theatre school that allows all children to express themselves through the Arts.
I worked with Rachel Cushnie at her school, Stagecraft, from 2008-2011. Before that, I worked in Canada and the United States as an actor and singer, performing in shows as diverse as Mamma Mia!, the Disney Cruise Line Mainstage shows, and both classical and new works at the National Art Centre, Canadian Stage and throughout Toronto. I have also worked in film, television, and animation. Additionally, I have worked as both a teacher for kids and as an audition coach for adults and teens, and hold a BFA in Theatre (Performance).
While working with Rachel at Stagecraft, I was fortunate enough to teach all age groups from the preschool children straight through to the young adults. Rachel always worked closely with her team of teachers, which is one of the reasons I think Stagecraft is such a wonderful place for children to learn. From the very first time I met Rachel, I was so delighted by the way she runs her programme, and by her philosophy of teaching. Her first priority, always, is to create a positive experience for each and every child, regardless of their experience or innate ability. Both the child who struggles to remember a line and must battle shyness to be heard, and the child who can’t wait to jump on stage and show the audience what they can do – both are celebrated at Stagecraft. Each child is encouraged, challenged, and applauded for their development, no matter where it begins or how far they get. Rachel and her team aim to inspire each child to find their own voice and confidence in each production.
Children at Stagecraft are, without doubt, learning the skills needed on stage. They will be taught acting, singing, and dance by trained teachers who have worked professionally as performers. The experience of putting together a show over a short period of time, from audition to performance on stage is empowering to the young performers. This is not a theoretical experience, but a practical, hands-on opportunity to work in theatre in a safe and supported environment designed specifically for children. In every single production I was part of one of my greatest joys was to see the faces of the kids as they realized how much they had achieved. They surprised me every time – showing me how very much they were able to do when challenged and encouraged.
The shows are carefully chosen. Rachel, along with a professional writer, adapts a Broadway musical that the kids are likely to know. She ensures that the content is appropriate and encompasses music and story to inspire the young actors. Every child will have at least one line and there is never a ‘star’. Every child will sing and be in the dance numbers. Again, this speaks to Rachel’s ideology – while some are ready for more challenge, each child will be given an opportunity to shine.
I would recommend Stagecraft wholeheartedly to any parent who has a child interested in theatre or performance, and any child who would benefit from confidence building. Stagecraft is a fun, loving, environment where children surprise themselves, make great friends, and learn to step up on the stage. My only regret is that my own three children, now 9, 5, and 3, will not benefit from Rachel and her wonderful school. I frequently run into students from Stagecraft Vancouver and their parents and inevitably they tell me how much they loved Stagecraft, and how much they learned there. There are legions of families out here who wish Rachel was still in BC. Truly, what is Vancouver’s loss is Ottawa’s gain!