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Arts Education



Like most people in this business, I was a student when I discovered theatre.

However, this this didn't happen till I was well into university because in my high school we had no proper drama programs. As a result, I've always felt that in those key, formative years, I missed some wonderful opportunities to get a better sense of who and what I could become.


Later on, after graduate school, I was fortunate enough to get some brilliant training, not in performance but in the teaching of drama, and that is where I discovered another, truly magical side of our art form. I learned how much more theatre can give us than how to get up on a stage. At its simplest, most human level, and in the privileged space of a drama classroom, theatre is an amazing tool that can teach us how to "be;" to be observant, to be communicators, to be understanding, to be creative, to be ourselves!


Now, it is this magic of discovery and self-affirmation that we want to make available to students.


In addition, at Pleiades our aim is to bridge cultural divides by bringing people together through the art of theatre. Our two outreach programmes, Speak the Speech!, for youth, and Play Upon the Words, for adults new to Canada and learning English, are both driven by that philosophy.


John Van Burek

Speak The Speech!


(Sponsored by Tim & Frances Price)
Available in either English or French, Speak the Speech! uses the Ontario Curriculum Guidelines to offer workshops and classes in GTA schools and Community Centres or in the Distillery District Studios. We employ theatre professionals to work alongside teachers, using classical and contemporary text, movement, voice, mask and collective creation, all to improve language, literacy, self- confidence and creative potential. When useful or appropriate, we can focus our workshops on a dominant cultural group within a school or neighbourhood. We also want to ensure that the creative process of theatre is accessible to young people of all economic and social backgrounds. In addition to our workshops, we offer young people significantly discounted ticket prices to our productions through our programme, Get Thee to a Theatre!.

Play Upon The Words

Through the generous support of CIBC, we operate our ESL Program, Play Upon the Words!, for adults who are newcomers to Canada and who need to strengthen their skills in English. We have gone on to perfect innovative, effective and highly enjoyable ways of helping students from all walks of life, all manner of languages and all conceivable backgrounds, in their efforts to break down the language barrier that stands between them and open doors in their new country and culture Play Upon the Words is offered through TDSB and TCDSB adult education programs.
What makes our program special?

  • Speak the Speech! is offered for grade levels K to 12

  • We work in tandem with and in support of teachers

  • Workshops vary from one period to a series of sessions - all tailored to your needs

  • Pour les programmes en français, les instructeurs sont francophones et bilingues, et les cours sont conçus, selon les exigences, pour écoles françaises, pour Immersion et pour Extended ou Core French

  • Programming is available in-class or after-school

  • All programs are offered at a reasonable cost


I had a conversation with every participant and I really felt happy that each of them had the positive response like me. Heart full thanks to you and Ranhuma for helping us to learn some new techniques of drama and dramatisation. It was really good working with you. Thanks a lot

          --Raihan, grade 12

It made me feel so important, to know I was part of something big, something that mattered. And when we finally presented it, I was scared. But all my new friends were there, and they really helped me. I never thought I could go up on stage, but everyone was so supportive. And I just took it one step at a time, and I did it! And it was great. After I got through that, I just know I can do all the other things I was afraid of.

          --Salvatore, grade 9

It made me feel special to know that I was part of something extraordinary. I was also able to realize my true selfand find my own personality.

          --Nazish, grade 10

As a teacher I saw the impact dramatization can have on any subject. The students have been touched by what we have done and are inspired and motivated to make a difference. As educators, we have reached a very important milestone with them

         --Annick Cardinal on the ‘Free the Children’, Earl Grey Senior Public School

 "Play Upon the Words” opened up our Adult ESL students to creative ways with English and boosted their confidence for self-expression in the language of their new country. These students, our future Canadian citizens, come from all over the world with superb skills, experience and wisdom, and need only fluency in English to unlock their enormouspotential. Thank you, Pleiades Theatre, for helping them reach this! 

    --Kathy Simo, ESL Program Officer - Jones Avenue Adult Centre

Project History

Some of the Many Projects in Our Community:

  • Applewood Heights, Grade 9 French Immersion, speaking and communication

  • Bayshore & Confederation Education Centre, Play Upon the Words (Adult ESL, Ottawa)

  • Bloor C.I, ESL Theatre Workshop

  • Cardinal Newman, French-language text work, theatre games

  • Earl Grey P.S, Free the Children and Devised Theatre

  • Eastdale C.I, Isolation in 'The Curious Incident of the Dog'

  • Fisherville P.S, Mask, Physical Theatre Workshop

  • Harbord C.I, Choral Speaking, Movement,Mask, and Radio Play Workshop

  • Humberside C.I, French and English, Reaching Out For Classical Theatre

  • Jarvis C.I, Antigone Workshop

  • Jean Vanier C.S, The Nutcracker Project, Mask Workshop

  • Jones Avenue Adult Centre, Play Upon the Words (Adult ESL) Expression and Creation Workshop

  • Mary Shadd P.S, Shakuntala, Image Creation, Collective Creation

  • Monseigneur Fraser College, Play Upon the Words (Adult ESL)

  • Morrish P.S, Multidisciplinary Theatre Workshop in Conflict Resolution and Bullying

  • OASIS, Theatre Workshop

  • Parkdale C.I, Physical Theatre, Oedipus Rex, Remembrance Day

  • Pope John Paul II, French Theatre Workshop on 'Zone'

  • Rosedale Heights, French Workshop on 'Zlata’s Diary'

  • St. Benedict Catholic School, Theatre Workshop

  • Voice Intermediate School, The Power of One Project

  • Wellesley Community Centre, Nine Week Drama Program

  • West Credit Secondary School, Masque and Stage Combat

  • Yonge Street Mission, Youth Variety Show, Now or Never Collective Creation, HipHop/Creation

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