The Alumnae Theatre Company is dedicated to the production of adventurous, high-quality theatre not readily seen elsewhere, and to the promotion and skill development of women in theatre.
The company is based in a beautiful theatre space, a converted firehall, at Berkeley and Adelaide streets in Toronto, Ontario (Canada). The space contains two stages, a rehearsal space, a workshop and a large wardrobe department. Alumnae produces a full season each year consisting of three productions on the Mainstage, as well as two festivals of new work in the Studio space, Fireworks and New Ideas Festival.
We are a club that consists of a membership of women volunteers who participate in all elements of the running of the theatre from acting, directing and writing to administration, artistic programming and management. Membership is open to all women. For more information, visit our Membership page.
Long before there was a Toronto theatre scene, there was the University Alumnae Dramatic Club. Founded in 1918 by women graduates of the University of Toronto at a time when Torontonians had little opportunity to see theatre of any kind, the club staged premieres of such plays as Beckett’s Waiting for Godot, T.S. Eliot’s The Family Reunion, Ionesco’s The Lesson, Pinter’s The Caretaker and Vaclav Havel’s Largo Desolato.
During its 100 years of continuous production, the Alumnae Theatre has retained its original focus – to produce unusual plays of the past and present not readily seen elsewhere. The Alumnae has always been honoured for its challenging and unusual repertoire. “They are the pace-setters,” said Nathan Cohen in the early 60s, “for the entire Toronto theatrical community.” In 1995, Richard Ouzounian said, “The Alumnae Theatre... provides us with some of the best surprises in town: straightforward productions of excellent plays that no one else in the city seems to be doing.” Over the years the Alumnae has offered many outstanding works from the world’s dramatic literature, as well as original Canadian plays, and has achieved special recognition for its dramatized biographies, readings and literary collages.
Some of the club’s more recent “firsts” include The Art of Dining by Tina Howe, The Love of the Nightingale by Timberlake Wertenbaker, and Thirteen Hands by Carol Shields.
No longer affiliated with the University, Alumnae’s membership has broadened to include the whole spectrum of Toronto’s communities. But it continues its original mandate to present the best in classic and contemporary plays and provide opportunities for all women in theatre. Over the years, many Canadian theatre artists have honed their skills on our stages, including Martin Hunter, R. H. Thomson, Molly Thom, Drew Carnwath, Shirley Barrie, Kelly Thornton, Mallory Gilbert, Sue Miner and Richard Easton.
For the first 30 years of its history, The University Alumnae Dramatic Club (as it was originally known) performed on the stage of Hart House Theatre. Starting in 1957, the club had a series of its own homes – a coach house on Huntley Street, a garage on Bedford Road, a converted synagogue on Cecil Street, and a church on Maplewood Avenue.
The present home of the Alumnae Theatre, old Firehall No. 4, is an historic Toronto landmark built in 1900 on Berkeley Street. This handsome building was renovated and restored by the Alumnae in 1972, and contains a fully-equipped mainstage theatre, an intimate studio theatre, as well as workshop, a well-stocked wardrobe, rehearsal, backstage, lobby space, and a benign ghost.
Alumnae Theatre in the Media GLOBE AND MAIL: Walking Toronto in the Footsteps of Ron Thom
CITY TV NEWS: Theatre in Small Spaces
Alumnae Theatre History Project
Do you have a story to share about Alumnae? Photos, programmes, memories? Information or anecdotes about theatre in Toronto during the nineteen hundreds? If so please contact Catherine Spence.