Building a legacy with Tree House Youth Theatre

There are those special people who just have a way with today’s youth – they can really connect with them,

MATT GOULD

MATT GOULD

There are those special people who just have a way with today’s youth – they can really connect with them, and even help to strongly influence them in a range of positive ways.

Matt Gould, 58, is one of those people. He’s been at the helm of the Red Deer-based Tree House Youth Theatre as artistic director for 10 years, and has decided that at the end of this spring’s production, it’s time to move on.

Tree House Youth Theatre was created in 1988. The aim of the program is to build theatrical interest and foster skills in the young people of Central Alberta.

“I understand that they have a great affection for me, and it’s reciprocal,” he explains of his band of actors and crew members. “I totally love the kids, and I know that I deal with them really well.” There’s no question of that – several return season after season to sign up. Much of that is no doubt due to Gould’s obvious ability to connect

Over the years, Tree House has produced many compelling shows, running the gamut from renditions of classics such as Sleeping Beauty, The Wind and the Willows and Fiddler on the Roof to others equally engaging that have been penned by Gould himself.

Whatever he has selected for a given performance, there is always much that is unique about it – Gould has a way of injecting a raw originality into pretty much anything he puts his hand to. “I get in there and do my work with my quirky sense, I carry whatever energy I can to the room – my expertise, my ignorance and my love for putting on shows and telling stories,” he adds with a smile.

Teresa Neuman first met Gould about 10 years ago when her daughter became involved with Tree House. She also served on the board for a time as well.

“What was really noticeable right from the beginning was that all of a sudden, there was a real elevation in the quality of the work that Tree House was doing,” she recalls of Gould’s arrival. “It has always been an excellent program, but the expectation that Matt brought for those kids to rise to was something I hadn’t seen in my time there up to that point.

“What was also special is that Matt has such a diverse set of skills – he’s a visual artist, he’s a designer, he knows about textiles and costuming, he’s an actor and he’s a musician. So he brought everything to the table in one package, which I think is going to be a challenge to even begin to replace in that kind of a mentor.”

Neuman said she also has noticed Gould’s approach to productions has been different in that it is often quite minimalistic in terms of costuming and set. “What had to come through in order to make the production work were the performances, and the allowance of the audiences to use their own imaginations to get there,” she said.

“I think that’s what we began to see – not only were the actors challenged to rise to the expectation, but the community was challenged to become more engaged in the productions because they had to bring their own imagination to it. I found that really exciting right from the beginning.”

Looking ahead, Gould’s last show will be a kind of retrospective – Let the Play Continue will be his last spring production with Tree House. “It’s a series of scenes and musical numbers from all the shows; there will be scenes from Last Known Position, Red Deer River Stories, Mulan, Fiddler on the Roof, Beauty and the Beast,” he said, acknowledging how the preparation has brought about many memories. “I think it’s really fun.”

editor@reddeerexpress.com

 

Just Posted

Police officers and their dogs undergo training at the RCMP Police Dog Services training centre in Innisfail, Alta., on Wednesday, July 15, 2015. Mounties say they are searching for an armed and dangerous man near a provincial park in northern Alberta who is believed to have shot and killed a service dog during a police chase. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
RCMP search for armed man in northern Alberta after police dog shot and killed

Cpl. Deanna Fontaine says a police service dog named Jago was shot during the pursuit

Alberta now has 2,336 active cases of COVID-19, with 237 people in hospital, including 58 in intensive care. (Black Press file photo)
Red Deer down to 73 active cases of COVID-19, lowest since early November

The Central zone has 253 active cases of the virus

The Sylvan Lake Gulls show off the home jerseys (white) and their way jerseys at the Gulls Media Day on June 17, before the season opener. Following the media day, the team took to the field for their first practise. (Photo by Megan Roth/Sylvan Lake News)
Sylvan Lake Gulls ready to throw first pitch as construction continues

The Gulls inaugural season kicks off June 18 with a game against the Edmonton Prospects

People line up to get their COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre, Thursday, June 10, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Vaccines, low COVID case counts increase Father’s Day hope, but risk is still there

Expert says people will have to do their own risk calculus before popping in on Papa

Bruce Springsteen performs at the 13th annual Stand Up For Heroes benefit concert in support of the Bob Woodruff Foundation in New York on Nov. 4, 2019. (Greg Allen/Invision/AP)
Canadians who got AstraZeneca shot can now see ‘Springsteen on Broadway’

B.C. mayor David Screech who received his second AstraZeneca dose last week can now attend the show

A lotto Max ticket is shown in Toronto on Monday Feb. 26, 2018.THE CANADIAN PRESS
No winning ticket sold for Friday’s $70 million Lotto Max jackpot

The huge jackpot has remained unclaimed for several weeks now

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is seen during a joint news conference following the EU-Canada Summit, in Brussels, Belgium, Tuesday June 15, 2021. Trudeau says Canada is on track now to have 68 million doses delivered by the end of July, which is more than enough to fully vaccinate all 33.2 million Canadians over the age of 12. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Vaccine deliveries enough to fully vaccinate all eligible Canadians by end of July

Three in four eligible Canadians now have their first dose, nearly one in five fully vaccinated.

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam listens to a question during a news conference, in Ottawa, Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021. The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases attributed to the highly contagious Delta variant grew in Canada this week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s public health agency reports spike in confirmed cases of Delta variant

More than 2,000 cases of the variant confirmed across all 10 provinces and in one territory

The federal government says it wants to ban most flavoured vaping products in a bid to reduce their appeal to youth. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Craig Mitchelldyer
Health Canada proposes ban on most vaping flavours it says appeal to youth

If implemented, the regulations would restrict all e-cigarette flavours except tobacco, mint and menthol

The Montreal Police logo is seen in Montreal on Wednesday, July 8, 2020. Some Quebec politicians are calling for an investigation after a video was released that appears to show a Montreal police officer with his leg on a young Black man’s neck during an arrest. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Probe called for after video appearing to show Montreal officer’s knee on Black youth’s neck

Politicians call for investigation after clip evokes memories of George Floyd incident

Flora Northwest was taken to the Ermineskin residential school when she was six years old. (Emily Jaycox/Ponoka News)
Ermineskin residential school survivor: ‘It just brings me back to the cries at night’

Discovery in Kamloops of remains of 215 children a painful time for survivors

Most Read