History

Theatre Ontario came into existence as the result of a meeting of theatre leaders at the Ontario Theatre Conference at Lake Couchiching.

From the beginning it was determined that Theatre Ontario would be a unique service organization with membership, programs, and services for all the sectors that make up theatre in the province: community, educational, and professional.

Incorporated in August 1971, Theatre Ontario immediately filled the gap created by the demise of the Dominion Drama Festival and Theatre Canada.

Theatre Ontario's first employee was the late Maggie Bassett who oversaw the development of dynamic training programs that benefited the entire province, and continue until today.

For over forty years, Theatre Ontario has continued to provide leadership to Ontario's theatre community through innovative programs and services. 

Milestones

1971

  • Met at Geneva Park
  • Founded Theatre Ontario
  • Hired Maggie Bassett as first employee

1972

  • Established Professional Theatre Training Program funding mentorships
  • Established Community Theatre Training Program (which operated until 1999) and the Talent Bank of professional theatre instructors
  • Launched publication Dialog (predecessor of Theatre Ontario News)

1973

  • Launched magazine Scene Changes (published until 1981)
  • Held first Theatre Ontario Festival showcasing and celebrating outstanding community theatre

1976

1977

1980

  • Presented Ontario Playwrights Showcase Festival at Hart House Theatre

1981

  • Established Maggie Bassett Award honouring significant, sustained, and unselfish contributions to Ontario theatre 

1985

  • Formation of ASTRO - the Association of Summer Theatres 'Round Ontario (now known as Ontario Summer Theatre) promoting summer theatre across the province

1986

  • Established Youth Summer Courses

1988

1995

1997

1998

2002

  • Compiled and edited an anthology of one-act plays written by Ontario playwrights and published by Playwrights Canada Press

2003

  • Partnered with the Toronto Alliance for the Performing Arts and the Professional Association of Canadian Theatres to share offices
  • Launched "To Act In Safety" providing health and safety training for theatres

2004

  • Launched Biweekly Auditions Email Bulletin (now our online Auditions page)
  • Launched "From Page to Stage" with Playwrights Canada Press, providing over two thousand plays, anthologies and resource books into two hundred high schools

2007

  • Compiled and edited Ontario Playwrights, a second anthology of one-act plays written by Ontario playwrights and published by Playwrights Canada Press

2008

2009

2011

  • Partnered with Playwrights Canada Press to create and edit Grassroots, an anthology of full-length plays that premiered at Ontario community theatres

2013

  • Held province-wide Community Theatre Forums to gain insight into the challenges and collective opportunities in the sector

2014

2015

2016

Key Personnel

Secretary/Administrator, Ontario Theatre Conference, Geneva Park (1971)

Maggie Bassett

Founding Members

Patricia Beharriell, James Costley, Arno Gotthardt, Margaret McCauley, Dusty Miller, Ron Payne, Michael Spence, Cicely Thomson

Presidents of the Board of Directors

Michael Spence, Patricia Beharriell, Elsie Thomson, Ed Procunier, Sandy Black, Don Bouzek, JoAnn McCabe, Gerald Smith, Rod Smith, Ed Minchin, John Storey, Jane Gardner, Colin Taylor, Marian Doucette, Marilyn Lawrie, Janet Irwin, Kay Kanbayashi, Mike MacLean, Richard Poore, Julianne Snepsts, Cam Lund, Deb Sholdice (current)

Chairpersons of the Board of Directors (until 1990)

Norman Griesdorf, Paul Eck, John Plank, Dusty Miller, Anne Wilson

Executive Directors

James Costley, Robert Ellison, Gene Maddox, Don Herbertson, Bryan Thomson, Catherine Smalley, Sandra Tulloch, Jane Gardner, Barbara Anderson-Huget, Andrea Emmerton (interim), John H. Goddard, Carol Beauchamp, Bruce Pitkin (current)

THEATRE ONTARIO

401 Richmond Street West, Suite 350, Toronto, ON, M5V 3A8
Telephone: 416.408.4556 (Find an Extension) / Fax: 416.408.3402
Get Directions / Contact Us via E-Mail

OFFICE HOURS

Monday to Friday: 9 am to 5 pm
(In July and August, our hours are Monday to Thursday: 9 am to 5 pm and Friday: 9 am to 1 pm)