Mike Uncorked: Emily Burton and The Valley Drama School

By Mike Butler

As a community theatre-goer, as well as an actor, 2020 has been a tough pill to swallow. So many shows, concerts, events, programs, and festivals have been Covid cancelled and postponed and it’s been very hard on the creative folks in our valley and beyond. Well, with Nova Scotia doing an amazing job at following the rules; we’ve been able to reopen many restaurants, cafes, and soon the schools and event sites will reopen as well. One NEW business in particular requires a little attention as it’s very near to my heart and passion: The Valley Drama School!

Operator, owner, actor, educator and (proud to say) friend of mine, Emily Burton is over the moon with excitement to be launching her drama school: a tot-to-teen school to teach all things theatrical. Do you have a budding theatrical child or teenager just itching to express their talent and study the tools needed to be a better actor or behind-the-scenes person? Well, keep reading!

Emily grew up in Fredericton with three wonderful brothers. In high school she was always in drama club or drama fest, and directed her first play, Romeo and Juliet, in grade 12. Before university she moved to a sheep farm in the Highlands of Scotland to be a nanny to five young boys and it was an incredible experience. Emily did her BA at UNB with a concentration in drama, and her B.Ed at Acadia with endorsations in drama and English. Nova Scotia is now home, and she couldn’t be happier.

“I have always loved theatre, and children, and so creating a drama school is a dream come true for me,” Emily says. “It is something I’m so passionate about and I feel so incredibly lucky and grateful that I get to pursue it here in the Valley. I’ve been acting since I was a child and I found using drama in the classroom brought the material off the page and to life.”

Although teaching has become a new passion for Emily, she has never strayed too far from the stage here in the Valley. She has been part of many plays with CenterStage Theatre in Kentville (Enchanted AprilCafe Noir39 StepsThe Odd Couple etc.) and the Wolfville Theatre Collective (Glass MenagerieAugust: Osage County), and her skills with character development and performance have been very inspirational to her castmates (me included!). Seriously folks, if you saw Emily’s heartwrenching performance in Glass Menagerie you’d know what I mean!

“I think what makes me unique, or what makes me a good person to teach theatre, is that I am caring and warm, and I have the ability to make people feel safe and comfortable in themselves so they can be free to explore creativity. I think my education and experience in theatre, as well as my passion for arts education, makes me a good person for the job! My goal in the next while is to reach out to families whose children don’t always have the opportunity to participate in these kinds of programs, and make sure we are reaching them.”

So, here’s some Valley Drama School essentials to know: drama classes will include foundational activities in creating an ensemble or team, movement (breathing, shape, space, energy, strength, emotion, environment), voice (tone, quality, range), character development (physicality, dialogue, subtext, backstory, goals, heritage, identity), and story-building (exploring many theatre forms, integrating voice and movement, teamwork skills, and expanding collaboration). The students will be creating a lot of their own plays. Class sizes are kept small so all students will have ample opportunity to bring their ideas, their passions, and their experiences to the table, and contribute to play-building and creating stories.

It’s a weird time in our world but Emily’s school will practice all the rules of social distancing to the best of the school’s ability, and the school will continue to grow and change as the times do. Besides her own classes, Emily is also hoping to have master classes with local musicians, actors, and writers.

The studio will be on Elm Avenue, in downtown Wolfville. The interest has already been incredible and registration has picked up so if you have any interest in snagging a spot, visit valleydramaschool.com to register or call 902-389-7937 for details. You can also email valleydramaschool@outlook.com.

What more could we ask for and want in the world right now? Bravo Emily!!