When Roderick Glanville was in Grade 9 entering high school in Ontario, he wrestled with the same thing many students struggled with — what is my place in the community?
Starting at a new school and being smaller than many of the other students, Glanville was at the bottom of the high school totem pole.
But after seeing his first professional play, it helped transform how he saw his place in the community.
The play was called The Exception and the Rule, and focused on class relationship structure with the protagonist and the antagonist each representing the oppressed and the oppressor.
“We always identify with those being oppressed. I did at the time being the smallest guy in high school. I found a way through the story to find strength. The oppressed had integrity and strength and was constantly being challenged and I identified so strongly with that character,” Glanville said.
“It was a way for me to find my place in the world. I found my place in my community because I could express myself in a healthy way by doing theatre.”
Since then, Glanville has dedicated himself to the arts, acting, directing and teaching around Canada and eventually settling in Victoria roughly 20 years ago.
For the past seven years, he has been at the helm as the artistic director of Kaleidoscope Theatre, a professional theatre company established more than 40 years ago for young people and their families. He is responsible for deciding what plays the company will put on each season.
Kaleidoscope Theatre will kick off its 2016/17 season beginning with James and the Giant Peach, an adaptation of Roald Dahl’s novel later this year, followed by a pantomime version of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, and ending with a bilingual version of The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry.
In previous seasons, the theatre has put on plays based on Robert Munsch books, the Hobbit and William Shakespeare, for audiences ages five and up.
This year, the theatre is focusing on revisiting classics that audiences young and old will enjoy, said Glanville.
“James and the Giant Peach is a classic for young families. Also, it crosses both boundaries between youth and adults because most adults are very familiar with it,” Glanville said. “They’ll bring their kids or families to shows that they remember from their youth as well.
(It’s) a wonderful, magical experience that enlightens and asks children to think critically about the world around them, to ask questions and open a dialogue.”
He added having a conversation with children about literature encourages them to explore different books by the same author as well.
Kaleidoscope Theatre’s executive director Marcus Handman said it’s important to give children a space to be entertained, while also exploring their imagination.
“It’s straight entertainment. It has to be fun and something that they’re going to want to do. But also help young people explore the world that surrounds them through their imagination and sights and sounds that they experience in the theatre so it becomes an immersive experience and opens them up to all sorts of possibilities as they grow older,” Handman said.
In the past, Kaleidoscope has put on productions at various locations around Victoria including the Roxy, the Metro, at a pop-up theatre in Up-Town and Fort Rodd Hill. However, this year all three plays will be performed at the McPherson Playhouse, in what will be the theatre’s largest performance space ever.
Handman admits many Greater Victoria residents might not know what Kaleidoscope Theatre offers, but said having plays in the McPherson will help raise the theatre’s profile in the community.
“There was a time when Kaleidoscope was as well known as any arts organization in this community. So now we’re looking to expand our programming and by being more public in the community,” Handman said, adding the McPherson offers a good balance of being able to accommodate a larger audience, while also feeling like an intimate space. “This way we can reestablish our identity.”
James and the Giant Peach runs Nov. 12 and 13, Snow White and the Seven Dwarves runs Dec. 27 to 29 and The Little Prince hits the stage March 11 and 12, 2017.
The fourth annual Family Theatre Festival also kicks off this June 11 to 12 at Centenntial Square.
For more information visit kaleidoscope.bc.ca.