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Trent Arterberry in the Classroom

Discipline: Theatre
Homebase: Sooke
Languages: English
Contact Me: (250) 642-2788 , Email

Trent Arterberry is a performing artist and director who has toured internationally for four decades. He is one-half of Super Scientific Circus, the longest-touring live science show in North America, and is the director of the soon-to-be world famous West-Mont Montessori Mime Club. Over the past several years, Trent has conducted fifteen artist-in-residence programs for elementary, middle and secondary schools on Vancouver Island. Trent's residencies involve working with a group of students for two to six weeks to create and stage a show performed in a school or community setting. Sourcing material from Shakespeare and Dickens, contemporary Canadian and British playwrights, student writing, and children’s books, Trent works to create a safe, inclusive and respectful atmosphere that encourages students to bring out their best. Trent has used themes such as environmentalism, historical figures, great women inventors, fairy tales and the underdog character to engage students in using their voices, bodies and imaginations to create enriching and entertaining shows. Students benefit in numerous ways including developing literary skills, physical and vocal abilities, cooperation, collaboration, and the self-esteem that results from a well-received performance.


In the Spring of 2013, I approached Trent Arterberry over the possibility of a 10-day artist in residency at Lakewood Elementary School (460 students). For over 10 days Trent worked with 39 Grade 5 students, demonstrating his vision for 10 mime scenes, framed by simple narration. He adapted my initial script into a fast paced 30-minute piece of theatre, alternatively mimed and narrated; in turn, moving, funny and ultimately satisfying. His touch with the students was, at times, almost collegial as they worked toward a shared but always negotiable vision. He managed to get the best out of them as performers by modeling, well-earned praise or simple firm direction when time proved pressing. The whole project was best summed up by an experienced, but known-to-be highly critical colleague, after the final show. 'Now that,' she cooed, 'was just superb.' I really cannot recommend Trent highly enough. Phil Duchene, Instructor of Drama Education, University of Victoria
Trent was the artist in residence at Journey Middle School for the month of January 2017. He taught students theatrical skills, which included mime and drama to interpret stories focusing on the theme of the underdog. Trent's mentorship encouraged participants to use their voices and bodies in a bigger, more creative way than is typical in a classroom setting. Students loved transforming into butterflies, bulls, bees, frogs and buffalos! His teaching process inspired them to collaborate, to improvise, and to take on characters and roles that enlarged their empathy and point of view. By utilizing students' strengths, Trent created a more effective performance, for example one student was a break dancer, so Trent included a dance scene in the script. As the rehearsals progressed students began to take ownership of the dramatic process and started offering insightful ideas and suggestions, which Trent incorporated into the script. The two final performances were a tremendous success and showcased how text can be combined with image, gaze, gesture, movement, music, speech and sound effects to express meaning in imaginative and innovative ways. Journey students enjoyed working with Trent and were genuinely engaged in the development of the theatrical performance. Daisy stated, 'Being in character means that you have to show what the character is feeling. You have to show their emotions.' Brody said, 'It is fun to play the role of someone else... to not be yourself for awhile.' Gemini commented, 'This experience helped me be more comfortable being myself.' Alex reflected, 'Working with Trent has been a privilege and a great opportunity that I will never forget.' I highly recommend Trent Arterberry as a performance artist and teacher. Laurie Gitzel, Literacy Support Teacher, Journey Middle School, Sooke
I see all the co-creation, co-operation and empowerment – a chance to speak up and be heard and seen and praised for that. The play (Witches, Lovers and Fools: Shakespeare’s Greatest Hits) was vibrant and playful and it felt like the kids had lots of fun with it. I love how Trent taught the kids with so much kindness and purpose. Laura Simul, Parent, Frogsong Farm Waldorf School, Cobble Hill

Project Examples

A Solstice Carol

Trent wrote and directed an original reimagining of the Dicken's classic featuring Ebenezer Scrooge as a corporate polluter. With over forty student performers and faculty-provided live music, this was a rousing and touching performance for an audience of over two hundred school community members.

Shakespeare's Greatest Hits

A collage of great scenes from several of Shakespeare's plays woven into a coherent production. We used Pyramus and Thisbe from Midsummer Nigh's Dream as the anchor piece along with scenes from MacBeth, Romeo and Juliet, As You Like It, several sonnets and live music, to create a very satisfying production.


The heart of this project was a desire to inspire students who often feel unsuccessful in school. Students diagnosed with learning disabilities (LD) struggle with reading and writing skills, which undermines their self-confidence. By using gestural, visual and other modes of literacy, the project empowered LD students to represent their learning in new and exciting ways. By creating a playful and safe learning environment, Middle School students were encouraged and were able to perform and very successful production to younger students.

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