Open Access Articles- Top Results for Theatre of Canada

Theatre of Canada

Canada's contemporary theatre reflects a rich diversity of regional and cultural identities.[1] Since the late 1960s, there has been a concerted effort to develop the voice of the 'Canadian playwright', which is reflected in the nationally-focused programming of many of the country's theatres.[2][3] Within this 'Canadian voice' are a plurality of perspectives - that of the First Nations, new immigrants, French Canadians, sexual minorities, etc. - and a multitude of theatre companies have been created to specifically service and support these voices.[4][5]

Prominent playwrights, practitioners, and contributors

Early Canadian theatre

The Annapolis Basin in Nova Scotia served as the cradle for both French and English language theatre in Canada.[6] Théâtre de Neptune was the first European theatre production in North America. The tradition of English theatre in Canada, also started at Annapolis Royal. The tradition at Fort Anne, Nova Scotia, was to produce a play in honour of the Prince of Wales's birthday. Prior to Paul Mascarene's productions, the Boston Gazette (4–11 June 1733) reported that George Farquhar's The Recruiting Officer was produced on Saturday, 20 January 1733 by the officers of the garrison to mark the Prince's birthday.

Paul Mascarene translated Molière's La Misanthrope and then staged at least two productions of the work during the winter of 1743-1744. The second performance on 20 January 1744 had also coincided with celebrations in the colony to mark the birthday of Frederick, Prince of Wales. The text of the first three acts is contained in the Mascarene papers, British Library. And four years after the Mascarene production, on 20 January 1748, Major Phillips and Captain Floyer also produced a play in honour of the Prince's birthday. Unfortunately, the Boston News Letter (3 March 1748) fails to indicate the title of the play. It does reveal, however, that the same play was staged a second time on 2 February 1748, at the request of Captain Winslow, after the colony received the news of Admiral Edward Hawke's success Second Battle of Cape Finisterre (1747), in October of 1747.[7]


  • Lescarbot’s Neptune Theatre 1606
  • Molière’s Tartuffe Scandal 1693
  • Halifax Prologue 1776
  • Sullen Indian Prologue 1826
  • Eight Men Speak 1933 (at Toronto’s Standard Theatre)


File:Theatre Royal Montreal 1825.jpg
A performance at John Molson's Theatre Royal, Montreal, 1825

Antoine Foucher (1717-1801), of Terrebonne (father of Louis-Charles Foucher), was the owner of the first Francophone theatre in Canada. In 1774, with various British officers, he staged the first production of Molière at his home in Montreal.[8][9][10] Other Garrison performances were private shows put on for troops, publicly performed by officers, which helped bridge theatre and war during its initial stages of development. It was welcomed by the populaces and distracted soldiers from war and routine military protocol.[11]

Before 1825, the Hayes House Hotel on Dalhousie Square, Montreal, had a theatre that staged German Orchestras and held Viennese dances.[12] After it burned it down, John Molson built the Theatre Royal in 1825, presenting Shakespeare and Restoration authors. It sat 1,000 guests and was also used for circuses and concerts.[13] Edmund Kean and Charles Dickens both performed there before it was demolished in 1844 to make way for the Bonsecours Market.[14] In the West, the GRAND theatre is build in 1912 in Calgary by the visionary Sir James Lougheed.[15]The Grand was the initial home of many arts organizations in Calgary; the first theatre, opera, ballet, symphony concerts, and movies were seen here. This theatre was the centre of social, cultural, and political life in Calgary until the early 1960s. The Grand Theatre has been saved from demolition in 2004 by the company Theatre Junction and its director Mark Lawes.[16]

From 1929, Martha Allan founded the Montreal Repertory Theatre and later co-founded the Dominion Drama Festival. She loathed amateur theatre, but her energies spearheaded the Canadian Little Theatre Movement at a time when live theatre in Montreal and across Canada was being threatened by the rapid expansion of the American-influenced movie theater. She almost single-handedly laid the groundwork for the development of the professional modern Canadian theatre scene.

Theatre of the 1950s


  • Teach Me How To Cry 1955 Patricia Joudry

Theatre companies and groups

  • Theatre du Nouveau Monde 1951 (Montreal), founded by Jean Gascon
  • Stratford Shakespeare Festival 1953 (Stratford), founded by Tom Patterson
  • Manitoba Theatre Centre 1958 (Winnipeg), founded by John Hirsch
  • Toronto Workshop Productions 1958 (Toronto), founded by George Luscombe

Theatre of the 1960s


  • Ecstasy of Rita Joe 1967 George Ryga
  • Fortune and Men’s Eyes 1967 John Herbert
  • Les Belles-Souers 1968 Michel Tremblay

Theatre companies and groups

Theatre of the 1970s


  • How Now Black Man, 1971, Lorris Elliot
  • Creeps, 1971, David Freeman
  • Leaving Home 1972 David French
  • The Farm Show 1972 Paul Thompson and Theatre Passe Muraille
  • Hosanna 1973 Michel Tremblay
  • 1837: Farmer’s Revolt 1974 Rick Salutin
  • The Donnellys Trilogy 1974-1975 James Reaney
  • Zastrozzi 1977 George F. Walker
  • Waiting for the Parade 1977 John Murrell
  • Billy Bishop Goes to War 1978 John Gray
  • Balconville 1979 David Fenario

Theatre companies and groups

  • Factory Theatre 1970 (Toronto), founded by Ken Gass
  • Tarragon Theatre 1971 (Toronto), founded by Bill Glassco
  • Toronto Free Theatre 1971 (Toronto), founded by Tom Hendry, Martin Kinch, John Palmer
  • 25th Street Theatre 1972 (Saskatoon)
  • Black Theatre Workshop 1972, founded by Dr. Clarence S. Bayne
  • The Second City 1973 (Toronto)
  • Persephone Theatre 1974 (Saskatoon), founded by Janet Wright, Susan Wright, Brian Richmond
  • Green Thumb Theatre 1975 (Vancouver, theatre for young audiences), founded by Dennis Foon
  • Carbone 14 1975 (Montreal)
  • Great Canadian Theatre Company 1975 (Ottawa)
  • Theatre Network 1976 (Edmonton)
  • VideoCabaret 1976 (Toronto), founded by Michael Hollingsworth and Deanne Taylor
  • Northern Light Theatre 1977 Scott Swan (Edmonton)
  • Catalyst Theatre 1977 (Edmonton)
  • Necessary Angel 1978 (Toronto), founded by Richard Rose
  • Buddies in Bad Times 1979 (Toronto, queer), founded by Sky Gilbert
  • Nightwood Theatre 1979 (Toronto, feminist), founded by Cynthia Grant, Kim Renders, Mary Vingoe and Maureen White
  • Workshop West Theatre 1979 Gerry Potter Artistic Director (Edmonton)
  • Roseneath Theatre 1979 (Toronto, theatre for young audiences), founded by David S Craig and Robert Morgan


With Canada's centennial in 1967 came a growing awareness of the need to cultivate a national cultural identity. Thus, the 1970s were marked by the establishment of multiple theatre institutions dedicated to the development and presentation of Canadian playwrights, such as Factory Theatre,[17] Tarragon Theatre,[18] and the Great Canadian Theatre Company.[19] Theatre Passe Muraille, under Paul Thompson (playwright)'s directorship in the 1970s, gained a national reputation for its distinctive style of collective creation with plays such as The Farm Show, 1837: The Farmer's Revolt and I Love You, Baby Blue.[20]

In 1971 a group of Canadian playwrights issued the Gaspé Manifesto as a call for at least one-half of the programing at publicly subsidized theatres to be Canadian content. The numerical goal was not achieved, but the following years saw an increase in Canadian content stage productions.[21][22]

Theatre of the 1980s and 1990s


Theatre companies and groups

  • Cirque du Soleil (Quebec) (early 1980s)
  • Windsor Feminist Theatre 1980 (Windsor)
  • Native Earth Performing Arts 1982 (Toronto)
  • DNA Theatre 1982 (Toronto)
  • Crow's Theatre 1982 (Toronto)
  • One Yellow Rabbit 1982 (Calgary)
  • Theatre Junction 1991
  • The Augusta Company 1980-90s (Toronto)
  • De-ba-jeh-mu-jig Theatre 1984 (Manitoulin Island)
  • Cahoots Theatre 1986 (Toronto)
  • da da kamera 1986 (Toronto)
  • Radix Theatre 1988 (Vancouver)
  • Primus Theatre 1988 (Winnipeg)
  • Théâtre Ex Machina 1990 (Quebec City)
  • Rumble Productions 1990 (Vancouver)
  • Mammalian Diving Reflex 1993 (Toronto)
  • Die in Debt Theatre 1993 (Toronto)
  • STO Union 1992 (Wakefield)
  • Artistic Fraud of Newfoundland 1995 (St. John's)
  • Soulpepper Theatre Company 1997 (Toronto)
  • The Electric Company Theatre 1996 (Vancouver)
  • Nightswimming 1995 (Toronto)


The 1980s and 1990s saw a flourish of experimental theatre companies cropping up across Canada, many of whom were exploring site-specific and immersive staging techniques, such as Toronto's DNA Theatre[23] and Vancouver's Radix Theatre.[24]

Theatre of the 2000s


Theatre companies and groups

  • Bluemouth Inc. 1998 (Toronto)
  • Project Porte Parole 1998 (Montreal)
  • 2b Theatre 1999 (Halifax)
  • Old Trout Puppet Workshop 1999 (Calgary)
  • Leaky Heaven 1999 (Vancouver)
  • Zuppa Theatre 1999 (Halifax)
  • Obsidian Theatre 2000 (Toronto)
  • Aluna Theatre 2001 (Toronto)
  • Small Wooden Shoe 2001 (Halifax/Toronto)
  • fu-GEN 2002 (Toronto)
  • Theatre Replacement 2003 (Vancouver)
  • Downstage 2004 (Calgary)
  • Ecce Homo Theatre 2005 (Toronto)
  • Convergence Theatre 2006 (Toronto)
  • Why Not Theatre 2007 (Toronto)
  • Suburban Beast 2008 (Toronto)
  • Outside The March 2009 (Toronto)


The 2000s saw the creation of several theatre companies with specific cultural mandates including Obsidian Theatre, a company supporting 'the Black voice',[25] fu-GEN, a company dedicated to work by Asian Canadians,[26] and Aluna Theatre, a company with a focus on Latin Canadian artists.[27]

Western Canadian theatre

British Columbia




Northwest Territories

  • Yellowknife is home to the Northern Arts and Cultural Centre, a small theatre with just over 300 seats.

Central Canadian theatre



Atlantic Canada

New Brunswick

Prince Edward Island

Nova Scotia

Newfoundland and Labrador

  • St. John's has the RCA (Resource Centre for the Arts), an artist-run company that is based at the LSPU Hall. It also has the St. John's Arts and Culture Centre, with a 1,000 seat main theatre.
  • Clarenville, Newfoundland is the home to The New Curtain Theatre Company, which operates as a year-round professional theatre based out of The Loft Theatre at the White Hills Ski Resort in Clarenville (2 hours west of St. John's).
  • Cupids, Newfoundland is home to The New World Theatre Project, which aims to do work from and inspired by the year 1610, when Cupids was settled as Canada's first English colony.
  • Stephenville, Newfoundland and Labrador, on the west coast of the island of Newfoundland, features the annual Stephenville Theatre Festival, a summer festival that began in the mid-1970s.
  • In Corner Brook, the Grenfell Campus of Memorial University offers a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Theatre, with productions staged every semester.

Summer Festivals

Major summer theatre festivals include:

  • Gabriola Theatre Festival (Gabriola Island, British Columbia)

Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival, based in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Canada also has more fringe theatre festivals than any other country,[citation needed] forming a summer fringe circuit running from the St-Ambroise Montréal Fringe in June and heading westward to the Vancouver Fringe Festival in September. The circuit includes the two largest fringe festivals in North America, the Winnipeg Fringe Festival and the Edmonton International Fringe Festival. Other fringe theatre festivals include the Saskatoon Fringe Theatre Festival, the Calgary Fringe Festival, the London Fringe Theatre Festival (Ontario), the Toronto Fringe Festival and the Atlantic Fringe Festival.

See also


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^ David Gardner's thesis, "An Analytic History of the Theatre in Canada: the European Beginnings to 1760," and his article "British Garrison Theatre in Canada during the French Regime"
  7. ^
  8. ^ Le Quebec et Bourgues
  9. ^ Societe d'Histoire de la Region de Terrebonne
  10. ^ Theatre and Politics in Modern Quebec (1989) by Elaine Nardoccio
  11. ^ Wilson, Edwin, ed. Living Theatre: History of the Theatre. 5th ed. New York, NY: McGraw Hill, 2008. Print.
  12. ^ Moses Hayes in the Dictionary of Canadian Biography
  13. ^ Wilson, Edwin, ed. Living Theatre: History of the Theatre. 5th ed. New York, NY: McGraw Hill, 2008. Print.
  14. ^ Canadian Theatre
  15. ^ James Alexander Lougheed
  16. ^
  17. ^
  18. ^
  19. ^
  20. ^
  21. ^ Ryan Edwardson, Canadian Content: Culture and the Quest for Nationhood (University of Toronto Press, 2008), ISBN 978-1442692428. Excerpts available at Google Books.
  22. ^ Louise Ladouceur, Dramatic Licence: Translating Theatre from One Official Language to the Other in Canada (University of Alberta, 2012), ISBN 978-0888647061. Excerpts available at Google Books.
  23. ^
  24. ^
  25. ^
  26. ^
  27. ^
  28. ^ "From store to stage: Toronto theatres set up shop in small places". The Globe and Mail, December 13, 2013.

Further reading

  • Bhabha, Homi. Editor's Introduction: Minority Maneuvers and Unsettled Negotiations. 
  • <span />"Cosmopolitanisms." Public Culture 12.3. 2000. pp. 577–89. 
  • Critical Inquiry 23.3. 1997. pp. 431–50. 
  • Robinson, Amy (1994). <span />"‘It Takes One to Know One’: Passing and Communities of Common Interest." Critical Inquiry 20. pp. 715– 36. 
  • "Summary," In Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade/Ministère des affairs étrangères et du commerce international. Canada in the World. 1999. Rpt. Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade/Ministère des affairs étrangères et du commerce international Home Page. 2001. 
  • Wagner, Anton, ed. Contemporary Canadian Theatre: New World Visions, a Collection of Essays Prepared by the Canadian Theatre Critics Association. Toronto: Simon & Pierre, 1985. 411 p. ISBN 0-88924-159-7
  • Young, Robert (2001). Postcolonialism: an Historical Introduction. Oxford, UK: Blackwell. 

External links