The Alumnae Theatre Company, in cooperation with the City of Toronto, has called the old Firehall No. 4 our home since 1972 when our members renovated and restored this unique building (built in 1905) that sits on the corner of Berkeley and Adelaide Street East.
But the company started long before that. It was in 1919 that a group of enterprising women graduating from the University of Toronto banded together under the name The University Alumnae Dramatic Club to form one of the city’s first theatre companies.
During the development of Toronto’s theatre scene in the 50s, 60s and 70s, The University Alumnae Dramatic Club — now renamed The Alumnae Theatre Company — staged the Canadian premieres of such works as Beckett’s Waiting for Godot, Ionesco’s The Lesson and Pinter’s The Caretaker. Over the years, many Canadian theatre artists have honed their skills on our stages, including Herbert Whittaker, Martin Hunter, R. H. Thomson, Molly Thom, Drew Carnwath, Shirley Barrie, Kelly Thornton, Mallory Gilbert, Sue Miner and Richard Easton.
Our mandate is threefold: to produce works that offer strong roles for women; to produce works that are not often seen in Toronto; and to produce works written by Canadians. And whether it’s the mandate, or whether it’s the shows, or whether it’s due to our joyful, unadulterated tenacity, February 2016 marked the 98th birthday of Alumnae Theatre Company!
What’s next? A countdown to our 100th anniversary, that’s what. Each season until 2019 we will re-stage a play from our glorious past – and we have nine decades to choose from! For 2016/17, it’s Sarah Daniels’ drama The Gut Girls, about the women working in the “gutting sheds” of Victorian London, which premiered for Alumnae in September 1997.
Our company motto is Play Like Girls, and membership is open to all women who love theatre. You don’t have to be an alumna of U of T!
For a seriously good time, get over here and play with us, ’cause there’s no one in town who plays like we do.
BLOGGERGAL: Cathy McKim (actor, writer, scenic artist) until June 2011. Tina McCulloch (publicist, actor, writer) from June 2011 – ?.