Our Bard Education team celebrated young people’s ingenuity and self-expression with the Bard Youth Fest Finale at the end of April. Since February, five Youth Fest Troupes across Vancouver explored As You Like It, each devising an original piece inspired by that play. On April 28, all Troupes were invited to a non-competitive Finale at the Newmont Stage, where they shared their pieces and rejoiced in five dynamic interpretations of a single play.

Each Bard Youth Fest Troupe was supported by a Troupe Champion and a Bard Coach, or Teaching Artist. The Bard Teaching Artists are an impressive team of theatre professionals who are inspired by community collaboration and care deeply about nurturing joy, imagination, and creativity.

Here’s what some of them have to say about working on Bard Youth Fest.

What makes Bard Youth Fest so special?  

Bard Youth Fest gives young people the opportunity to engage with Shakespeare’s language, characters and stories in a way that is exciting and feels authentic to who they are and where they are in their lives. This hopefully changes any preconceived notions they might have about Shakespeare and allows them to interact with his work from a fresh perspective.
– Ming Hudson, Teaching Artist 

The fact that it is not a competition, but rather a celebration. It allows anybody and everybody to be who they are and bring whatever they have to offer into the project. And all are equal in that way.
– Paul Moniz de Sá, Teaching Artist 

The spirit that the Bard Education team brings. Also, presenting in a non-adjudicated format is really appreciated. Lastly, the way this program provides a platform to demystify Shakespeare, taking it off the desk and putting it in the air!
– Mike Stack, Teaching Artist 

2023 Bard Youth fest participants smiling mid-performance of As you Like It

Bard Youth Fest 2023 participants mid-scene

What do you enjoy most about working as a Bard Coach for the Bard Youth Fest?

I enjoy helping the students figure what they want to say with their piece and how they’ll say it. I never know what a Troupe will want to experiment with, and I love the exploration of that. And that moment when we all find out what they’re most excited about – it’s just magic, for everyone. I love the delight of the discovery!
– Ming Hudson, Teaching Artist 

I love the energy of the kids. I love the excitement and sense of play that they have for something new they get to explore and discover. As we grow old, we’re put into little boxes of what to do/not to do, and as actors we’re trying to keep up that same exploration as a child where everything is new. Working with young kids is rejuvenating.
– Paul Moniz de Sá, Teaching Artist 

I really love watching young people’s eyes become surprised and inquisitive when it comes to Shakespeare, as the stories and the words unfold. When they find out what’s going on in that treasure trove of language, you see the moments when they realize what it all means. I also love the coming together of all the different groups. Doing that live, in one space, celebrating what every other group has done – it’s earnest celebration, delightful and respectful.
– Mike Stack, Teaching Artist 

Bard Youth Fest 2023 participants with their hands clasped above their heads ready to take a bow at the end of their performance.

Bard Youth Fest 2023 participants take a bow

We are so inspired by the creative collaboration between the Bard Teaching Artists and our participants. This will continue all summer long as about 150 children and teens join us at Sen̓áḵw for Bard Summer Camps. Participants ages 5 – 18 will dive into Shakespeare’s language, characters, and stories and bring them to life in their own ways, bringing a different kind of vibrancy to the Bard stages.