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Modern Theatre in Context: A Critical Timeline

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'The Farm Show' (Man on a Tractor), 1972

The unfolding richness of English-Canadian theatre in the years following the Centennial of Confederation continues, extending now to Alberta and Newfoundland. In Calgary Alberta Theatre Projects is founded by Douglas Riske and Lucille Wagner as a theatre for young audiences, while the Pumphouse Theatre is founded in an historic municipal pump house, slated for demolition until its theatrical potential was noticed by Joyce Doolittle. Both expand to become major factors in the city's reputation as a thriving cultural centre. In the 1980s Alberta Theatre Projects becomes a thriving regional theatre, operating out of the Martha Cohen Theatre since 1985 and now sponsoring the annual "PlayRites" festival of new work. Similarly, the Pumphouse Theatre building is renovated in 1982 and its two performance spaces, the Shed Theatre and the pump room, are rededicated the Victor Mitchell Theatre and the Joyce Doolittle Theatre respectively. In Newfoundland Chris Brookes and Lynn Lunde found The Mummers Troupe, which tours the province with politically interventionist theatre. In 1976 until it disbands in 1982. The Mummers Troupe purchases the Longshoreman's Protective Union Hall (LSPU Hall), and although the company disbands in 1982, this hall remains the home of most major St. John's companies since, and of indigenous Newfoundland theatre.

More influentially, The Farm Show – the production that would define the Theatre Passe Muraille style under the artistic direction of Paul Thompson – opens in Ray Bird's Barn in Clinton, Ontario. Rooted in Collective Creation from documentary material, works like The Farm Show, The Immigrant Show and The West Show, were based on oral histories, anecdotes, jokes and songs recorded in a community by the ensemble who then included this in the production which was then, often, first presented before the audience it concerned. The epitome of a popular theatre, this collective documentary form, mirroring the realities of Canadian life in the most direct form, soon becomes seen as a quintessential characteristic of Canadian Drama.