About Us

ABOUT THEATRE DIRECT

Now in its 39th season, Theatre Direct Canada is one of the Country’s leading theatres for young audiences whose productions have reached audiences in schools and theatres touring throughout Ontario, across Canada and overseas.  Within its theatre and education studios in the Artscape Wychwood Barns, the company’s productions engage students from over 25 local schools while its year-round drama school and community-based education involve over 300 children and their families.

Theatre Direct’s work has been recognized with numerous Dora Mavor Moore Award nominations and has won 6 Dora Mavor Moore Awards for outstanding Production in the TYA category, 10 Chalmers Canadian Play Awards, as well as, the Canada Council Theatre for Young Audiences Prize.

Mission

  • To commission, develop, produce and present theatre for young people that empowers, educates and inspires.
  • To explore challenging ideas and subject matter relevant to young people, honestly, directly, courageously and passionately.
  • To reflect and celebrate the cultural diversity of our audience through the stories we tell and the people who tell them.
  • To nurture our audience’s appreciation of the arts and each other through accessible community and education programs.

Philosophy

Our work is driven by a belief that young people deserve truth not diversion – that they have a right to meaningful cultural content and experiences. We view our audience as thinking, feeling, complex individuals – not a market and not future audiences, but our present audience of emerging citizens that demands relevant theatre that engages all their faculties, feelings and intellect.

Theatre Direct Canada sees its role as an innovator and a leader in the development and production of sophisticated and uncompromising theatre conceived especially for young audiences. We embrace a spirit of experimentation in our work and believe in pushing the boundaries of theatre for young people to include a range of disciplines and forms including dance, music, opera, puppetry and performance based installation work.

Theatre Direct views educators and parents as partners in the mission to empower and educate young people through theatre and arts education. We play a strong advocacy role within our community and strive to raise awareness of the importance of investment in theatre and arts experience for children and youth.

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History of Theatre Direct

Founded by playwright David Craig 1976, Theatre Direct has produced over 85 productions, many of which toured schools and theatres extensively. The company has received numerous nominations and garnered 6 Dora Mavor Moore Awards, 10 Chalmers Canadian Play Awards as well as the Canada Council Theatre for Young Audiences Prize.

Milestone productions between 1980 and 1990  include Thin Ice by Banuta Rubess and Beverly Cooper, Getting Wrecked by Tom Walmsley, The General by Robert Morgan and Flesh and Blood by Colin Thomas, one of the first plays dealing with HIV/AIDS.

From 1990 – 2002 plays included A Secret Life by Ed Roy, presented in an innovative environmental staging, Toronto at Dreamers Rock by Drew Hayden Taylor, exploring the perspective of Aboriginal youth which toured across Canada and The Buncha’ Young Artists Festivals 2000 and 2002 which premiered 8 new emerging playwrights and their work for young adults.

Since 2002, productions include Alphonse by Wajdi Mouwad, And by the Way Miss…by the interdisciplinary collective URGE for girls between 12 and 14 years old, the Beneath the Banyan Tree by Emil Sher, which explored the immigration experience of a South Asian child and Binti’s Journey adapted by Marcia Johnson from the novel The Heaven Shop by Deborah Ellis addressing the impact of HIV/AIDS in Africa.

In 2009, Theatre Direct opened the doors to its new home in the Artscape Wychwood Barns – a redeveloped historic site surrounded by expansive park in the heart of mid-town Toronto. The company’s facilities include a fully-equipped professional theatre venue and an education studio.

Professional Affiliations

Theatre Direct is an active member of Professional Association of Canadian Theatres (PACT), Theatre Ontario, Toronto Alliance for the Performing Arts (TAPA), Performing Arts Organization Network for Education (PAONE), and Council Of Drama/Dance in Education (CODE). We participate in these organizations’ various initiatives and committees, such as the cultural diversity committees of PACT, the eligibility committee of TAPA and the youth training committee of Theatre Ontario.

Highlight Productions

Getting wrecked LittleSister
And by the way, Miss… Binti’s Journey
Toronto at Dreamers Rock Flesh & Blood
Beneath the Banyan Tree Sanctuary Song
A Secret Life A Buncha Young Artist Festival
The Demonstration Walking the Tightrope