Hart House Theatre engages a broad array of communities in the passion, vibrancy and immediacy of theatrical performance as artists, learners, volunteers and audience members.
Through authentic artistic partnerships that enhance inclusion, pluralism and representation, Hart House Theatre focuses on the development, training and showcase of youth and emerging artists seeking to create innovative opportunities for expression and exploration. It also facilitates audience engagement with shows and programs that inspire thought, laughter and joyous applause.
Hart House Theatre supports educational opportunities and workshops, provides volunteer roles on and off stage, facilitates student theatre opportunities, and delivers annual semi-professional theatre productions in artistic partnership with others seeking to reflect diverse stories and communities.
Hart House Theatre is often referred to as the cradle of Canadian Theatre. Opening in November of 1919 the Art Deco theatre on the University of Toronto campus quickly became a leader in the Canadian “Little Theatre” movement of the 1920’s and 1930’s. Hart House Theatre cultivated and featured some of the country’s finest actors, directors, playwrights and designers of the pre-World War II era, including Raymond Massey, Dora Mavor Moore, Lloyd Bochner, Lawren Harris, Arthur Lismer, Wayne and Shuster and Merrill Denison.
After the war, Hart House Theatre, under the direction of Robert Gill, became an extracurricular student theatre and for twenty years turned out a new generation of stage professionals. William Hutt, Don Harron, Kate Reid, David Gardner, Arthur Hiller, Donald Sutherland, Norman Jewison and Lorne Michaels all got their start treading the boards on the Hart House stage.
By the mid 1960’s the theatre joined the world of academia with the creation of the Graduate Centre for Study of Drama. A new generation of students combined dramatic literature with practical theatre experience and learned from and contributed to the vibrant Toronto theatre scene of the 1970’s.
Click here for a pdf table of Hart House Theatre’s production history from 1919 – 1986.
Click here for a pdf table of Hart House Theatre’s production history from 2001 to present day.
Today Hart House Theatre is the focal point for the performing arts at the University of Toronto. With over a thousand students participating each year in its extra-curricular season of drama, dance, music and film, Hart House Theatre continues to influence each new generation of performers, designers and audiences.