Canadian Stage Company is a not-for-profit contemporary theatre company based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
Canadian Stage is one of Canada's largest not-for-profit contemporary theatre companies, based in Toronto, Ontario. The company was founded in 1987 with the merger of CentreStage and Toronto Free Theatre and has been a favourite of audiences for years, as well as the topic of much discussion in the theatre community. Currently, the company has an emphasis on multidisciplinary work and work in translation, programming international contemporary theatre and developing and producing new Canadian works. 2016-17 is the organization’s 29th season. Total attendance for a season is approximately 100,000 people. Canadian Stage has produced more than 300 shows - over half of which have been Canadian plays. Canadian Stage also runs a series of artist development and education initiatives, as well as youth and community outreach programs.
The current Artistic and General Director is Matthew Jocelyn, who replaced outgoing Artistic Producer, Marty Bragg, in early 2009. The current Managing Director is Su Hutchinson.
Canadian Stage presents works at three venues: the 876-seat Bluma Appel Theatre; the Berkeley Street Theatres (244-seat Berkeley Downstairs Theatre and the 167-seat Berkeley Street Upstairs Theatre); and a 1000-seat outdoor amphitheatre in Toronto’s High Park where Shakespeare is performed each summer.
The Bluma Appel Theatre in the St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts (a city of Toronto owned building) is the company’s main stage. Located at 27 Front Street East, this theatre has been Canadian Stage’s home for over 25 years. In the 2016.17 season, they will present eight productions at this theatre. The St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts was constructed in the late 1960s, as part of the city’s Centennial Celebrations. It opened in February 1970, but was then called the Theatre. In 1982, it was renovated by the Thom Partnership. A balcony was added, the lobbies expanded and the giant chandeliers installed before the theatre re-opened the following year as the Bluma Appel Theatre, in recognition of the generous financial contributions of arts activist Bluma Appel.
The historic Berkeley Street Theatre complex contains two performance spaces, as well as a large rehearsal space, props and wardrobe facilities, and the company’s administrative offices. The Berkeley site was originally built by the Consumer’s Gas Corporation in 1887 as part of a gas pumping station complex. The Berkeley Downstairs Theatre was originally a pump room and served in that capacity until 1955, when Consumer’s Gas moved their production out of downtown Toronto. A wrecking firm was hired to demolish the buildings in February 1971, but the complex was renovated instead of destroyed thanks to the efforts of Tom Hendry, co-founder of Toronto Free Theatre. The Berkeley Upstairs Theatre was created as part of the general 1976 renovations of the complex. This building is also owned by the City of Toronto.
Situated in the middle of Toronto's High Park, the Amphitheatre can seat over 1,000 people. The first production of Shakespeare in High Park was performed in 1983 between two large oak trees with none of the infrastructure that exists today. The City of Toronto terraced the hillside of the Amphitheatre to provide more comfortable seating in 1997, and a permanent stage was installed in 2005.
Many of the plays developed by Canadian Stage have been awarded and nominated for Canada’s most prestigious literary and performing arts honours, including Governor General’s, Chalmers and Dora Mavor Moore Awards. Canadian Stage is a three-time recipient of the Lieutenant Governor’s Award for the Arts, in recognition of building private sector and community support. Canadian Stage has been nominated for 296 Dora Mavor Moore Awards, receiving 62, in addition to numerous other Canadian and international awards and nominations.
Since 2010, Canadian Stage and York University’s Faculty of Fine Arts have collaborated through an MFA in Theatre – Stage Direction. The initiative was launched in 2011 to support the development of directorial talent for the national and international stage. The program develops emerging directors with advanced training in large-scale theatre directing. The first graduates of the program were Ker Wells and Ted Witzel.
Students are deeply immersed in the professional world of theatre as they integrate their studio work at York with involvement in artistic projects at Canadian Stage. The program is customized for each student based on their experience, artistic orientation and goals. Key elements of this enriched academic experience include the opportunity to direct a Canadian Stage production and an internship with a major national or international theatre. Artistic and General Director Matthew Jocelyn and Lead Mentor, Peter Hinton serve to guide students in the MFA program, working closely with graduate faculty in York’s Department of Theatre.
The current Artistic and General Director of Canadian Stage is Matthew Jocelyn. Jocelyn replaced outgoing Artistic Producer, Marty Bragg, in early 2009. Prior to his appointment at Canadian Stage, Jocelyn was the Artistic and General Director of the Atelier du Rhin in Alsace, France for 10 years. Under his leadership, he was responsible for establishing the organization as a major centre for multidisciplinary arts in France. He was named Chevalier des Art et des Lettres (Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters), by the French Ministry of Culture in July 2008, one of the country’s most prestigious arts honours. Jocelyn's programming and work has received a range of reviews from critics and audiences alike.
The current Managing Director of Canadian Stage is Su Hutchinson. Su Hutchinson joined Canadian Stage on May 1, 2012 from the East Coast Music Association where she was the Executive Director. Previous to Canadian Stage, Hutchinson worked as an arts administrator with numerous organizations including Tarragon Theatre, The Writers’ Trust of Canada, Soulpepper Theatre, and Quinlan Road Limited, Loreena McKennitt’s independent record label.