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The Young Ruffian Apprenticeship Program

*Applications are now open for our 2017 Program

Who: Geared towards high school students who are interested in theatre, this program is for novice and experienced actors alike, for anywhere in the GTA. No Shakespeare appreciation required.

What: A part-time, free-of-charge summer acting intensive and apprenticeship program.  Discover what the world of theatre has to offer through the lens of Shakespeare and the support of a professional theatre company.

2014 Young Ruffian playing with classical text

2014 Young Ruffian playing with classical text

  • Mentorship: Throughout the five weeks, you will be learning alongside highly-skilled theatre artists, who will be acting in Shakespeare in the Ruff’s summer production. You will participate in several one-on-one sessions with your mentors and have the opportunity to discover what life is like for working actors in Toronto.

  • Skill building: Through workshops with professional artists; including fight choreography, text analysis, and movement training, you will come away having honed a number of new skills.

  • Performance: The capstone of the program is developing your own production, which will be presented as the opening-act to the professional show on two nights in Withrow Park. You will perform on the same stage as the professional company, engaging with the same audiences; a unique opportunity to get a taste of a professional acting experience.

Why: We believe that the work we do today will help foster the audiences and artists of tomorrow. We’ve always put mentorship and accessibility at the core of what we do and the Young Ruffian Apprenticeship Program is the strongest pillar of that commitment.

Where: Spend the summer playing outside! The performances and most of the workshops & rehearsals take place outside in beautiful Withrow Park. It’s located in Riverdale, just south of the Danforth between Chester and Pape subway stations.

When: 5 weeks from July 24th to August 27th 2017. The program runs three days a week, allowing participants to work summer jobs evenings and weekends.

Young Ruffians '15

2015 Young Ruffians working with large puppets

Mentor and actor Lesley Robertson shares a laugh during rehearsal with Thea, one of the 2012 Young Ruffians.

Mentor and actor Lesley Robertson shares a laugh during rehearsal with Thea, one of the 2012 Young Ruffians.

BONUS: This program provides a creative way to complete the community service hours you require to graduate.

 If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact Caitlin Sullivan, our Community Outreach Coordinator.


This past summer I had the privilege of teaching a workshop for the Young Ruffians Program. The teens were fantastic and the evidence of their hard work was demonstrated in their final ensemble creation. In addition to my workshop, the Young Ruffian participants worked with some of the most highly respected teachers and performers in Canada. The Young Ruffian Apprenticeship Program is the only one of its kind offered in Riverdale, and unique in the experiences and incredible opportunities it provides for young people.

Jake Epstein, Actor (Spiderman on Broadway) & workshop leader

The Young Ruffian program prioritizes accessible youth participation and creation. It provides youth in the city the opportunity to get involved in professional theatre and to work with emerging artists in an ongoing mentorship capacity.

Molly Gardner, Education Coordinator, Soulpepper Theatre Company

This whole experience has changed my life for the better. I hope future Young Ruffians have as much fun as I did.

Katasha James, Young Ruffian alumni 2012

The entire experience of this summer was just great. Not only were we privy to the inner workings of a brand new company, we were also able to watch a show, a real proper show, go from words on a page to a sublime performance. I learned so much about working as a collective and using Shakespeare as inspiration.

Thea Lewis, Young Ruffian alumni 2012