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English Theatre seek lessons from the young

Romeo and Juliet, baby Jesus and a young country and western singer from Montreal all have a message for theatregoers at the National Arts Centre this year.

Romeo and Juliet, baby Jesus and a young country and western singer from Montreal all have a message for theatregoers at the National Arts Centre this year.

In fact, all young people have something to teach us, said Peter Hinton, artistic director of the National Arts Centre English Theatre.

In its 41st season, the NAC has created a season “that celebrates youth and family as we look to our futures,” said Hinton, who unveiled the 2010-11 season last night.

The stories celebrate young people, and the role that young people can play in society, said Hinton.

Deciding which plays will make up the season is a big job that involves going through hundreds of plays, said Hinton. “We read scripts, we talk to people, we go see theatre.” And as a national theatre, the NAC is featuring plays from Victoria to Cape Breton in 2010.

“It’s important to all of us at the National Arts Centre that we continue to define what it means to be Canadian,” he said.

The season kicks off with Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, acted by graduates of the National Theatre School and members of the NAC acting company.

“It’s a professional mentorship between senior actors and young actors ... it’s really perfect for that play because that play is about the power and tenacity of young people and how an older generation needs to learn from the young,” Hinton said.

Next is nativity: a coyote’s christmas, “about the very first Christmas,” he said.

While all plays feature young adults, some are not suited to young people, Hinton said. The Year of Magical Thinking is Joan Didion’s memoir based on the year that she lost both her husband and daughter.

“It reminds us of how we survive a tragedy that we will all face,” Hinton said.

Michel Tremblay’s Saint Carmen of The Main; a hip-hop, tap production of i think i can; Vimy, which focuses on one of the most important events in Canadian history; Agokwe, a play that swept the Dora Mavor Moore Awards; Tales of the Moon and a Cape Breton comedy with Lauchie, Liza and Rory round out the season.