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Modern Theatre in Context: A Critical Timeline

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The Globe Theatre (Regina)

The Globe Theatre, founded in Regina by Ken and Sue Kramer, first produced and tours plays for young audiences throughout Saskatchewan, following the model of the Neptune. The Globe later premieres the populist plays of Rex Deverell, who is appointed playwright-in-residence in 1972. Then, like Citadel, in 1976 it moves to a downtown permanent home, becoming a theatre-in-the-round with a repertoire – typical of most regional theatres – combining international twentieth-century classics and Broadway fare with new Canadian plays (as for instance in its 2003-04 season where Robert Bolt's A Man for All Seasons is followed by Joan MacLeod's The Shape of a Girl).

Partly a direct result of the founding in the previous year of the Canada Council – itself a response to the Massey Report of 1951 – two very different types of theatre organizations emerge in Western Canada. One is represented by the Arts Club Theatre in Vancouver opens, directed by Yvonne Firkin and Otto Lowy; the other by the Manitoba Theatre Centre (MTC), which was modelled on Roger Planchon's Théâtre de la Cité in France. Both are strikingly successful. In the 1970s under Bill Millerd the Arts Club Theatre expands operations, finally adding a larger space on Granville Island in 1979, then in 1983 adds yet another, the Revue Theatre, at an adjoining site, while the MTC under the artistic direction and management of respectively John Hirsch and Tom Hendry, becomes the model for regional theatres across the country. These are followed over the next decade by a range of other regional theatres: notably the Neptune Theatre in Halifax in 1963, and the Vancouver Playhouse (which first opened as the Playhouse Theatre Company under Malcolm Black in the same year), Citadel Theatre in Edmonton in 1965, and the Globe Theatre in Regina in 1966.

Neptune, which takes over a re-converted vaudeville house (originally the Strand Theatre, built in 1915, but converted to a cinema in 1930), opens with Shaw's Major Barbara, starring Mavor Moore, under its first Artistic Director, Leon Major. In 1967, as part of the Centennial Year celebrations, Neptune launched a national tour: the first (in contrast to the nineteenth-century touring companies from the London Lyceum or the New York Syndicate) by a Canadian theatre company. They began the practice of appointing a resident playwright, the first being Jack Grey. By 1997 the New Neptune had moved into a new building housing not only two theatres and several rehearsal halls, but also a Theatre School.

Taking its name from the original building (a Salvation Army Citadel) the Citadel opens with Bernard Engel's production of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? As part of the cultural investment that marked the Centennial of Confederation, a new brick and glass arts centre is built at the heart of downtown Edmonton to house the Citadel, then under the Artistic Directorship of John Neville, re-opening there in 1967 as a regional theatre.