When the Winnipeg Little Theatre and Theatre 77 merged to form the Manitoba Theatre Centre in 1958, their goal was to produce great theatre with mass appeal. Artistic Director John Hirsch and General Manager Tom Hendry staged professional productions of an eclectic array of plays – classics, Broadway hits, and new Canadian work. With the establishment of a second stage for experimental work in 1960, and an annual provincial tour that began in 1961, MTC fully realized the original vision of a centre for theatre in Manitoba. Inspired by the breadth and quality of MTC’s programming, a whole network of what became known as “regional theatres” emerged across North America.
Since its founding, MTC has produced more than 600 plays with hundreds of actors, including Len Cariou, Graham Greene, Martha Henry, Judd Hirsch, Tom Hulce, William Hurt, Tom Jackson, Robert Lepage, Seana McKenna, Eric Peterson, Gordon Pinsent, Keanu Reeves, Fiona Reid, R.H. Thomson, Kathleen Turner and Al Waxman.
The company produces in two venues: the Warehouse Theatre, which opened in 1969, and the Mainstage Theatre, completed in 1970. The theatres were renamed after the company’s founders in 2008. In 2009, the Government of Canada designated the Mainstage theatre a National Historic Site and, in 2010, Queen Elizabeth granted the company a royal designation.
Today, the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre produces 10 plays on two stages, a regional tour, a wide range of youth programming and two annual festivals: the Master Playwright Festival (founded in 2001) and North America’s second-largest Fringe Festival (founded in 1988). Attendance for MTC programming averages 300,000 each year, and many Manitobans also support MTC with donations and volunteer time. Under the leadership of Artistic Director Steven Schipper and Executive Director Camilla Holland, Royal MTC remains Manitoba's flagship theatre.
History Fact Sheet
The production history below contains detailed information for all productions from 1958-present. Historical research for this project was funded by Manitoba Culture, Heritage and Tourism and the Jean Murray - Moray Sinclair Scholarship.
Royal MTC Production History
ABOUT OUR STAGES
The John Hirsch Mainstage
The Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre’s roots can be traced to the merging of Theatre 77, founded by Tom Hendry and John Hirsch, and Winnipeg Little Theatre in 1958, forming Canada’s first regional theatre. MTC’s first ten seasons were produced at the Dominion Theatre, just off the corner of Portage and Main (now the site of the Richardson Building). In 1968, MTC moved into the Centennial Concert Hall at 55 Main Street, where it spent the 1968/69 and 1969/70 seasons. The present site of MTC at 174 Market Avenue was completed in 1970, and the first production in itsnew home was Bertolt Brecht’s A Man’s a Man, directed by founding Artistic Director John Hirsch.
The Tom Hendry Warehouse
The Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre’s second stage has, over the years, changed both location and name. Originally housed in the old Dominion Theatre, it was simply known as the Studio Theatre. Then in 1965, with a new location, it was appropriately called Theatre-Across-The-Street. In 1969, a permanent facility was established at 140 Rupert Avenue and a new name introduced, the MTC Warehouse Theatre. At the 50th Anniversary Homecoming celebration on May 11, 2008, the Warehouse theatre was officially dedicated to MTC co-founder and first general manager, Tom Hendry.
50 OF THE TRIED AND TRUE
The play's the thing, but some plays stand the test of time and remain favourites throughout the years. As part of the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre's 50th anniversary season celebrations, MTC created a list of plays that are not easily forgotten.
The final list of 50 Significant Canadian Plays was derived from nominations by prominent actors, directors, dramaturges, critics, professors and playwrights, who were each asked to nominate 10 plays. See the list below!
50 Significant Canadian Plays