The 1800s

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Modern Theatre in Context: A Critical Timeline

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New theatrical developments are initiated across Canada in a second flowering that produces a new wave of Canadian drama.

In Quebec Le Théâtre Expérimental de Montréal (later Le Nouveau Théâtre Expérimental de Montréal) is founded by Robert Gravel, Pol Pelletier, and Jean-Pierre Ronfard to challenge the formalities and conventions of traditional theatre. At the same time, also in Montreal, Carbone 14 is founded as Les Enfants du Paradis, changing their name in 1981 when they occupy their first permanent space, l'Espace Libre. Specializing in movement, mime, and dance theatre, the company gains international recognition in the 1980s. Similarly in Ottawa Bill Law, Robin Mathews, Larry MacDonald, Greg Reid, and Lois Shannon found the Great Canadian Theatre Company with a mandate to produce Canadian work dealing with significant social and political issues.

In Edmonton, Alberta, Theatre Network is founded, with a mandate "to mirror prairie life through drama" expressed through its first production: a collective creation, Two Miles Off, while Edmonton's Northern Light Theatre first appears as a Lunch Theatre. Opening at the Edmonton Art Gallery with a production of Love and Drollery, a compilation by Scott Swann (Artistic Director) and Allan Lysell (administrative director), in 1979-80 the company will move to a full-length evening format gaining a reputation under subsequent Artistic Directors, who include Jace van der Veen, Gyllian Raby, and D.D. Kugler, which in 1997 will enable them to subsume the Edmonton Phoenix Theatre, which would otherwise be forced to close for financial reasons.

In B.C. Belfry Theatre is founded by Artistic Director Don Shipley in the Spring Ridge Centre, a heritage building in downtown Victoria.

In a bravura display of theatricality, all three plays of James Reaney's Donnelly Trilogy are performed in one day at Toronto's Bathurst Street Theatre. The culmination of the two-year development and national tour of the NDW company's production, this event marks the high point in Reaney's poetic development of physical theatre, which has significant influence on Canadian performance.