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Project Limelight Sets the Stage for Young Inner-City Actors

East Vancouver youth develop their acting chops in this free theatre program.

By Tyee Staff 11 Jul 2016 | TheTyee.ca

When Ombú saw her first Project Limelight show, she was blown away seeing kids like her act on stage.

"I thought it was incredible," said Ombú. "I was like, 'Mom, let me go to this program. I really want to do it.'"

In 2014, Ombú played Snow White in a retelling called Mirror, Mirror -- all with young people like herself.

Project Limelight is a free theatre program for kids ages eight to 15 who live in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside and the nearby Strathcona neighbourhood. Sessions are four months, and children learn a diversity of creative skills like clowning, creative writing, voice work, movement and improvisation.

"The goal is to support the children, build confidence, inspire self-esteem," said Project Limelight's executive director Donalda Weaver.

Weaver was the former general manager and owner of a casting studio called Second Avenue Studios and later co-founded Project Limelight with her sister to give back to the East Vancouver community they grew up in.

SFU is one of Project Limelight's key partners. Project Limelight shows are performed at SFU Woodward's.

"I think that supporting marginalized communities or inner city communities is really important," said Andrea Creamer, project co-ordinator of SFU Woodward's cultural unit. "They're directly our neighbours."

The most recent Project Limelight production, #Fairytale, is about a young man named Cinder Fella who rises to YouTube stardom with the help of his fairy godmothers.

Spoiler alert: there are happy endings to all shows and for the young actors involved.

"You get the real experience of going into a theatre and there's lighting and a big stage and amazing costumes and makeup," said Ombú. "It's a place where you can just go and be safe and have fun with your friends to just do something that you love."

Read the full story on SFU's website here.  [Tyee]

Read more: Education

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