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Modern Theatre in Context: A Critical Timeline

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Frances Hyland

The first university Drama Department in the British Commonwealth is founded at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon. Among its early graduates was Frances Hyland, who in 1967 creates the title role in George Ryga's The Ecstasy of Rita Joe.

By contrast it is only fifteen years later, in 1961, when the first graduate emerges from the National Theatre School of Canada. This is Martha Henry, who goes on to a distinguished career as an actor and director at the Stratford Festival and other theatres in Canada and the United States, and, as Artistic Director, at the Grand Theatre in London, Ontario.

The National Theatre School, moulded by the French director, Michel Saint-Denis who had worked closely with Jacques Copeau, establishes itself as the premier conservatory in North America during the 1960s, and over the decade is followed by the founding of drama departments in most of the larger Canadian universities.