What we do

The Ottawa School of Theatre is Ottawa’s longest running theatre school. With over 30 years experience, we provide education and hands-on experience in theatre arts to students of all ages, from 5 to 105, in both English and French. 

In 1989, Ottawa School of Theatre — formerly the Orleans Young Players — was founded by Karen Freeborn, a performer and educator who wanted to wrap life skills based on kindness and cooperation into the creative process. Our vision is to be a creative catalyst for self-confident performers and discerning and appreciative patrons of the arts in our school and in the community.

A resident partner at the Shenkman Arts Centre, we offer a professional theatre setting for all classes, rehearsals and performances, and today contract more than 15 theatre professionals to lead over 30 classes. We also offer summer camps and, for students interested in more intensive studies, speech arts and drama exams in partnership with the Royal Conservatory.

We love putting on a spectacular show, hosting over 50 student shows a year, but equally important to us are our core values. Nothing beats seeing our students transform their self-confidence, build collaborative skills, and up their creative thinking. 

For over 30 years, we’ve strived to nurture a community that is warm, kind, and supportive. OST is a space where both adults and kids learn that it’s ok to make mistakes (in fact, we celebrate mistakes, because that’s how we all learn!).

Most of all, we’re a space that puts love first — whether we’re on stage or out in the world. 

Ottawa School of Theatre is a non-profit registered charitable organisation.

Take a whistle-stop tour through our history

  • 1989: Orleans Young Players Theatre School (OYP) launched with just one class of 16 students.
  • 1994: OYP incorporates as an independent organisation with a volunteer Board of Directors, with 8 classes and 6 annual shows.
  • 1996: Under the leadership of Artistic Director David Hersch the school grew to serve 120 students per week.
    2002: OYPTS hired Kathi Langston as Artistic Director, and the focus of the school shifted from recreational to becoming a leader in theatre education.
  • 2009: OYP moved into the Shenkman Arts Centre, creating pivotal partnerships with organisations like Ottawa School of Art and Arts Network Ottawa.
  • 2017: As news of our classes spread across Ottawa and Gatineau, students came to us from all over the region; to welcome everyone, OYP became the Ottawa School of Theatre.
  • 2020: In the COVID-19 pandemic, OST endured by moving classes online and outdoors, and performing 3 virtual All Ages Plays.
  • 2022: Megan Piercey Monafu is hired as Artistic Director.
  • Present Day: OST sees up to 600 students a year, taught by 30 theatre professionals, with over 50 annual student performances.

Click here for our mission and values