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Modern Theatre in Context: A Critical Timeline

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25th Street Theatre Production of 'Paper Wheat', 1977

By this time Passe Muraille's collective documentaries and Paul Thompson's The Farm Show has evolved into a standard technique of Canadian Theatre, and the influence becomes particularly clear when 25th Street Theatre in Saskatoon launches the first of three widely popular tours of Paper Wheat, a collective creation about the Saskatchewan co-op movement. Also, at the other end of the country, the success of another collective creation, The Mulgrave Road Show, by Michael Fahey, Gay Hauser, Robbie O'Neill, and Wendell Smith, leads to the founding, in the northeastern Nova Scotia town of Mulgrave, of the Mulgrave Road Co-op. The company, which later moves to the county seat of Guysborough, dedicates itself to the production of new plays by Nova Scotians about Nova Scotia.

Universities also begin to play a distinctive role, when Drama students working with David Barnet at the University of Alberta found Catalyst Theatre. A decade later, in the 1980s, particularly under the direction of Jan Selman, this will develop into Canada's leading group engendering popular social animation. Still more influential is the founding of Theatresports out of an advanced acting class taught by Keith Johnstone at the University of Calgary. This improvisational game is now played/performed throughout North America, as well as in Europe and Australia. La Ligue Nationale d'Improvisation, founded independently in Montreal in the same year by Robert Gravel and Yvonne Leduc, represents a similar development in Quebec.