Canada's contemporary theatre reflects a rich diversity of regional and cultural identities. Since the late 1960s, there has been a concerted effort to develop the voice of the 'Canadian playwright', which is reflected in the nationally focused programming of many of the country's theatres. Within this 'Canadian voice' are a plurality of perspectives - that of the First Nations, new immigrants, French Canadians, sexual minorities, etc. - and a multitude of theatre companies have been created to specifically service and support these voices.
Theatre was banned in French Canada by the Catholic clergy in 1694, but after Canada became British in 1763, theatrical activity begun to flourish, foremost among the British garrisons and within amateur theatre.
Antoine Foucher (1717-1801), of Terrebonne (father of Louis-Charles Foucher), was the owner of the first Francophonetheatre in Canada. In 1774, with various Britishofficers, he staged the first production of Molière at his home in Montreal. Other Garrison performances were private shows put on for troops, publicly performed by officers, which helped bridge theatre and war during its initial stages of development. It was welcomed by the populaces and distracted soldiers from war and routine military protocol.
The first professional theatre company was Allen's Company of Comedians, which made its first performance in Montreal in 1786, and was followed by the all male French language amateur society Les Jeunes Messieurs Canadiens in Quebec City in 1789. From 1790 to 1840, amateur theatre was regularly performed at the Haymarket Theatre in Quebec City. 
In the West, the Grand Theatre was built in 1912 in Calgary by the visionary Sir James Lougheed. The Grand was the initial home of many arts organizations in Calgary; the first theatre, opera, ballet, symphony concerts, and movies were seen here. This theatre was the centre of social, cultural, and political life in Calgary until the early 1960s. The Grand Theatre has been saved from demolition in 2004 by the company Theatre Junction and its director Mark Lawes.
From 1929, Martha Allan founded the Montreal Repertory Theatre and later co-founded the Dominion Drama Festival. She loathed amateur theatre, but her energies spearheaded the Canadian Little Theatre Movement at a time when live theatre in Montreal and across Canada was being threatened by the rapid expansion of the American-influenced movie theatre. She almost single-handedly laid the groundwork for the development of the professional modern Canadian theatre scene.
Theatre of the 1950s
Teach Me How To Cry 1955 Patricia Joudry
Theatre companies and groups
Hudson Players Club 1948 (Hudson, Qc) founded by the collective group of HPC
Nightwood Theatre 1979 (Toronto, feminist), founded by Cynthia Grant, Kim Renders, Mary Vingoe and Maureen White
Workshop West Theatre 1979 Gerry Potter Artistic Director (Edmonton)
Roseneath Theatre 1979 (Toronto, theatre for young audiences), founded by David S Craig and Robert Morgan
With Canada's centennial in 1967 came a growing awareness of the need to cultivate a national cultural identity. Thus, the 1970s were marked by the establishment of multiple theatre institutions dedicated to the development and presentation of Canadian playwrights, such as Factory Theatre,Tarragon Theatre, and the Great Canadian Theatre Company.Theatre Passe Muraille, under Paul Thompson's directorship in the 1970s, gained a national reputation for its distinctive style of collective creation with plays such as The Farm Show, 1837: The Farmer's Revolt and I Love You, Baby Blue.
In 1971 a group of Canadian playwrights issued the Gaspé Manifesto as a call for at least one-half of the programing at publicly subsidized theatres to be Canadian content. The numerical goal was not achieved, but the following years saw an increase in Canadian content stage productions.
The 1980s and 1990s saw a flourish of experimental theatre companies cropping up across Canada, many of whom were exploring site-specific and immersive staging techniques, such as Toronto's DNA Theatre and Vancouver's Radix Theatre.
The 2000s saw the creation of several theatre companies with specific cultural mandates including Obsidian Theatre, a company supporting 'the Black voice', fu-GEN, a company dedicated to work by Asian Canadians, and Aluna Theatre, a company with a focus on Latin Canadian artists.
Lethbridge is the home of New West Theatre, a professional theatre company. Theatre Outré also operates out of Lethbridge and presents theatrical content, subject matter, styles and forms that are alternative to what is currently offered in the community.
Rosebud, located one hour east of Calgary, is home to Rosebud Theatre, Alberta's only rural professional theatre.
Oshawa is home to Oshawa Little Theatre ([oshawalittletheatre.com]) founded in 1928 and running continuously since 1950; offers 4 productions a year as well as a youth group production. It runs out of its own facility on Russet Ave. since 1983.
St. John's has the RCA (Resource Centre for the Arts), an artist-run company that is based at the LSPU Hall. It also has the St. John's Arts and Culture Centre, with a 1,000 seat main theatre.
Clarenville, Newfoundland is the home to The New Curtain Theatre Company, which operates as a year-round professional theatre based out of The Loft Theatre at the White Hills Ski Resort in Clarenville (2 hours west of St. John's).
Cupids, Newfoundland is home to The New World Theatre Project, which aims to do work from and inspired by the year 1610, when Cupids was settled as Canada's first English colony.
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