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History Post-confederation (1867-)

Opening Act, The

Canadian Theatre History 1945–1956

by (author) Susan McNicoll

Ronsdale Press
Initial publish date
Mar 2012
Post-Confederation (1867-), Social History, History & Criticism
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Mar 2012
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  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Apr 2012
    List Price

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The conventional opinion is that professional Canadian theatre began in 1953 with the founding of the Stratford Festival. But Susan McNicoll asks how this could be, when the majority of those taking the stage at Stratford were professional Canadian actors. To answer this question, McNicoll delves into the period to show how in fact the unbroken chain of Canadian professional theatre began just after WWII, when a host of theatre people decided that Canada needed its own professional theatre groups. Drawing on personal interviews with many of the actors and directors active in the period after the war, McNicoll explores the role of such companies as Everyman in Vancouver, New Play Society in Toronto, Canadian Repertory Theatre in Ottawa, Théâtre du Nouveau Monde in Montreal, and many more. in 1953 the Stratford Shakespeare Festival ultimately showed the world that Canada was ready for centre stage, but the real birth of professional theatre happened in the years leading up to that moment. The volume includes over 50 photos of scenes from plays of the time and selections from McNicoll's interviews with such luminaries as Christopher Plummer, Joy Coghill, Amelia Hall and Herbert Wittaker.

About the author

Susan McNicoll was born in Montreal. Her lifelong love of words and history has been the main focus of her writing career, which began with five years as a reporter for the Ottawa Journal in the 1970s. Her published books include British Columbia Murders (Heritage House, 2009) and Ontario Murders (James Lorimer, 2009). She has devoted some ten years of her life to completing her theatre history. She lives in Vancouver.

Susan McNicoll's profile page


  • Short-listed, Ann Saddlemyer Award

Editorial Reviews

“This is a delightful trip through a time when English Canada’s theatre scene mercifully turned ‘pro’ and brought all us eager young hopeful thespians some dignity and recognition on our own home ground.” —Christopher Plummer

“A major strength of the book is McNicoll’s letting the players tell their own stories…. This is an indispensible, highly readable compendium of the essential characters of a critical period in our theatrical history.” —BC Studies

Other titles by Susan McNicoll