Eleanor Drury Children’s Theatre Presents The Odyssey

By Amy Sellors

On January 30, The Odyssey begins. Adapted by Eleanor Drury Children’s Theatre, The Odyssey is sure to delight audiences. 

Eleanor Drury Children’s Theatre (EDCT) is an essential part of Thunder Bay’s theatre scene. Formed in 1981 and rejuvenated seven years ago with a new board of directors, EDCT produces theatre that is for children, by children. Producer Catherine Forbes explains that EDCT is engagement-based and student-centric: “We create theatre that works with children where the children are at.” Everyone is cast no matter who they are or what their experience. The production team looks for ways to make each cast member feel valued and important 

“It’s one of our more challenging shows,” says director Aleksa Shermack, of The Odyssey. Homer’s classic tale isn’t exactly PG-13, so a few creative re-writes were needed to keep the core of the story while making it more family-friendly. “How do we keep the essence of The Odyssey and adapt it in a way that is fun and friendly and takes the darkness out of it?” Shermack says. Her solution: invite some of the group’s more longstanding members to workshop the story and write the script. It’s new, it’s modern, and it incorporates what kids see in the story.

Quinn Stewart plays Odysseus. This is Stewart’s seventh year with EDCT. He loves EDCT because the wide age range of kids inspires a mentorship mindset; they learn not just from the adults in charge, but also from each other. “It is such an accepting environment,” he says. “If you come here, everyone will be so positive and let you be the best you that you can be. Kids who are shy and who feel they don’t fit in at school turn into different people. It brings out the best aspect of themselves that they might not be able to show. EDCT is a perfect place to find your footing. You will be blown away by what some of these actors can do.”  

Participants range in age from 7 to 17, and are all incredibly talented. “They are a team and they hold each other accountable,” says Shermack. “All the kids are incorporated. Even if they just have a small speaking role, they are still a big part of the show.” Drawing on her broadcasting background and the knowledge that screens are an inseparable part of our daily lives, Shermack makes sure EDCT’s shows involve multimedia created by the kids and creative team. 

All children should have the opportunity to experience theatre, and with so many people feeling pinched financially, that can be challenging. As a charitable organization, EDCT has launched their “Take a child to the theatre” campaign. Even if you don’t have a child to take to the theatre, your donation goes toward purchasing tickets for other children to attend. 

Go on an amazing adventure. See The Odyssey and this amazing troupe of kids. EDCT will present two shows for schools (January 30 and 31) and two shows for the general public (January 31 and February 1) in their new location at St. Patrick High School in the Selkirk Auditorium.Tickets are available through Eventbrite.