Theatre Calgary

In the 1940s, Dr. Betty Mitchell, a drama teacher at Calgary's Western Canada High School, inspired such loyalty and devotion in her students that they continued to study with her after graduating. Together they named themselves "Workshop 14" and became one of the country's finest amateur theatre companies. Two decades later, a second amateur group called the "Musicians' and Actors' Club" (MAC), composed of local business people, were staging short plays and excerpts from musicals in the old Isis movie house. MAC and Workshop 14 merged to become MAC 14 under the direction of Kenneth Dyba and mounted productions in a converted tractor house, later to be named The QR Centre. MAC 14 became Theatre Calgary, a fully professional theatre company, on July 1st, 1968.

Christopher Newton, formerly the Artistic Director of the Shaw Festival, was appointed the first Artistic Director for Theatre Calgary. A keen interest was expressed at this time to produce plays by Canadian playwrights; James Reaney's The Three Desks was produced during the first season, as were two others of Newton's works: You Two Stay Here, The Rest Come With Me and Trip. In 1971, Clark Rogers succeeded as Artistic Director, the very year a disastrous fire destroyed most of the company's archives. Harold G. Baldbridge assumed the direction of the company in 1972, and for the next seven years presented a blend of national, international, contemporary, and classic works.

In 1977 Rick McNair joined Theatre Calgary as the director of Caravan, a touring theatre troupe that brought drama to the schools throughout Alberta. Caravan was renamed Stage Coach Players in 1979 and still exists in Calgary today as Quest Theatre, under the direction of Duval Lang. Mr. McNair was appointed artistic Director for Theatre Calgary in 1979 and presented premiers by John Murrell, W.O.Mitchell, and Sharon Pollock. In 1984, Sharon Pollock became the fifth Artistic Director of the company and again a commitment to producing new Canadian work was re-established.

Martin Kinch succeeded as Artistic Director in 1985. During this time Theatre Calgary became the resident company of the state-of-the-art theatre in the Calgary Centre of Performing Arts (now known as the Epcor Centre for the Performing Arts). Designed in conjunction with Theatre Calgary, the Max Bell Theatre came to completion as a striking performance space. Every seat is within sixty feet from the stage so audiences can enjoy the kind of intimate rapport with the actors that serves to enhance the magical experience of live theatre.

In 1991, Brian Rintoul came to Theatre Calgary as Executive Producer. Mr. Rintoul had produced plays previously for Theatre Calgary in the QR Centre. In 1996, James Brewer was appointed Acting Artistic Director and Richard C. Dennison became the general manager. In 1997 Ian Prinsloo assumed the role of Artistic Director. Prior to joining Theatre Calgary, Mr. Prinsloo was the co-founder of Orange Dog Theatre in Toronto.

In 1997, Tom E. McCabe, after a successful tenure on the Board of Directors, became General Manager (and later President). Prior to this, Mr. McCabe served as Executive Director of Tourism Alberta and held numerous senior positions over a 25-year career with the Bank of Montreal.

In September 2005, Dennis Garnhum was appointed the new Artistic Director. Mr. Garnhum has re-established developing and premiering new work for our stage as well as expanding our national and international collaborations.

Theatre Calgary is governed by a Board of Directors under the leadership of Ellen Chidley.

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