The Centaur and Anglophone Theatre
For a half century, the Centaur TheatreThis link will open in a new window has been staging works that broaden horizons, move and delight, and provoke laughter and thought.
Located in the heart of Old Montréal, the venerable institution has become a flagship for Montréal’s Anglophone theatre community.
Since its foundation in 1969 by Maurice Podbrey and Herbert C. Auerbach, the Centaur’s successive artistic directors Gordon McCall, Roy Surette, and Eda Holmes have staged hundreds of plays by the top national and international playwrights, past and present.
The 1979 creation of Balconville by David Fennario is often cited as a defining moment in the rise of Anglo-Montréal theatre.
A range of cultures, forms of expression, and generations have intersected on the Centaur’s stage, reflecting the many trends and perspectives that permeate Québec society and showcasing Montréal’s unique cultural landscape.
Contemporary works that have marked our history include For the Pleasure of Seeing Her Again (translation by Linda Gaboriau of Encore une fois, si vous permettez) by Michel Tremblay, Schwartz’s: The Musical by George Bowser and Rick Blues, and Mambo Italiano by Steve Gallucio, the popularity of which carried over to the big screen.
Excellence on the stage
Every year, the METAs This link will open in a new window (Montreal English Theatre Awards) recognize playwrights, directors, actors, and companies whose work and talent contribute to the strength and diversity of the Montréal Anglophone theatre scene.
Celebrating its 50th season, the Centaur Theatre was in the running for a record 15 awards, a number of them for Tarell Alvin McCraney’s Choir Boy, which won the coveted outstanding PACT production award from the Professional Association of Canadian Theatres. The play, which deals with the transition to adulthood in a school of young African Americans with a gift for choral singing, was presented in Montréal before heading to Broadway!
Another important player in the Anglophone theatre landscape, the Segal Centre for Performing ArtsThis link will open in a new window receives over 65,000 visitors every year. Founded in 1967, it has gained national visibility for its work in creation and its spirit of innovation which honours diversity and intercultural collaborations. Focusing on original interpretations of popular classics and contemporary works, the Segal also celebrates Jewish identity and is home to the Dora Wasserman Yiddish Theatre. In addition to being fully accessible to visitors with reduced mobility, the Centre works closely with the deaf and hard-of-hearing communities, offering performances interpreted in ASL and assistive listening systems.
The Segal has made its presence felt as a multidisciplinary community hub and is an invaluable artistic resource for independent and emerging artists and others.
Theatre, for everyone, everywhere
The Anglophone theatre landscape serves a culturally and demographically diverse community. Some of its organizations head out into the world to meet audiences where they can be found.
This is the case for Repercussion TheatreThis link will open in a new window, which presents visually dynamic plays, anchored in the classical repertoire and accessible to all spectators, regardless of financial situation, culture, language, age, or education. For 30 years, the company has been offering Shakespeare in the park.
The flagship of independent theatre, the dynamic MainLine Theatre organizes the St-Ambroise Montreal Fringe FestivalThis link will open in a new window, which offers abundant programming, a welcoming environment, space for emerging artists, and accessibility to foster exploration. Under the direction of Amy Blackmore, the Fringe is an adventure that over 500 professionals from a variety of backgrounds and 60,000 festivalgoers take part in every year. It is an incredible opportunity for artists and the public to take risks, experiment, and have fun together.
Founded in 1968 by Wayne and Doreen Fines, YoutheatreThis link will open in a new window is the oldest professional youth theatre company in Québec and the only bilingual one in Canada. Focused on theatre that engages, provokes, and raises questions as much as it entertains, its productions have been seen by over 2 million young people.
Elsa Bolam founded Geordie TheatreThis link will open in a new window in 1980 and served as its artistic director until 2006. Presenting English-language productions to audiences of all ages, the company does an annual seven-month tour of Québec, Ontario, and New Brunswick, and it was one of the first to present professional theatre to Indigenous communities and tour Northern Québec and Nunavik, making theatre available to remote communities. Geordie Theatre stages over 200 performances every season and has reached 2.5 million young people since it was founded.
Cofounded in 2005 by Lyne Paquette and Emma Tibaldo, Talisman TheatreThis link will open in a new window is successfully pursuing its mission to produce contemporary Québec plays in translation for the Anglophone scene. The most recent was Clean Slate (Table rase) by Catherine Chabot, in collaboration with Brigitte Poupart, Vicky Bertrand, Marie-Anick Blais, Rose-Anne Déry, Sarah Laurendeau, and Marie-Noëlle Voisin. Nominated for 7 METAs, the production won the Outstanding Ensemble award.
Theatre meets activism
An activist for social justice and for the equitable representation and participation of women and marginalized groups, Imago TheatreThis link will open in a new window tells stories of courageous, complex, inspiring women. It also offers a free performing arts mentorship program for young women and residencies for emerging and established theatre artists.
Incorporated in 1972, the Black Theatre WorkshopThis link will open in a new window is the oldest theatre company in Canada to stage plays primarily by Black Canadian playwrights. Choosing plays for their relevance to the Black community and culture, BTW seek to create greater intercultural understanding through its presence and the intrinsic value of its work.
Associations and services
The calendar This link will open in a new window published by the Québec Drama FederationThis link will open in a new window (QDF) lists everything going on in Anglophone theatre, from shows to job opportunities, along with deadlines for submitting applications for events. Founded in 1972, the organization offers its hundreds of members representation services, resources, and educational initiatives that support and reinforce the arts community.
Since 1963, Playwrights’ Workshop MontréalThis link will open in a new window (PWM) has been dedicated to the development of theatre and performance pieces that reflect a range of cultural identities and experiences. Seeking to promote collaborations between different artistic traditions, the organization is involved in translating theatre pieces and plays a leading role in the dialogue between cultural communities.
Lesley Bramhill, the general manager of the PWM, received an honorary META, the Unsung Hero of the Theatre Award, for her behind-the-scenes contribution to theatre. The dedication shown by this champion of Anglophone theatre inspires her peers and has brought new energy and resources to the theatre community.
The PWM won another honorary META in recognition of its efforts in equity, diversity, and inclusion, through its many programs that promote feminist writing and embrace young LGBTQ and neurodiverse creators.
For the past 15 years, the English Language Arts NetworkThis link will open in a new window (ELAN) has sought to build a sustainable cultural community by creating the conditions to promote the retention and fulfillment of Anglophone artists in Québec. Through networking events, ELAN has helped make connections between Québec artists, in the hopes of showing the two solitudes that they are more alike than different.
25 years of the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec
This article is one in a series devoted to the imaginations and works that have received support from the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec since 1994.
Read other stories (in French)