Who We Are
The Theatre Centre is a nationally recognized live-arts incubator that serves as a research and development hub for the cultural sector. We are a public space, open and accessible to the people of our community, where citizens can imagine, debate, celebrate, protest, unite and be responsible for inventing the future.
The company fosters a culture of innovation by embracing risk and questioning traditional notions of failure and success.
What We Do
The Theatre Centre pursues a mandate of supporting artists who wish to develop works of an experimental or alternative nature, that challenge the definitions of theatrical performance by embracing music, dance, visual art and new media. The company provides space, mentorship, exposure and a sense of community through a series of carefully-conceived programs, which are adapted regularly in order to remain responsive to each successive generation of creation-based artists.
The Theatre Centre’s Residency Program is at the core of the company’s activity. A structured two-year program provides groups/artists with the necessary space, funding and mentorship to craft ideas still in their infancy into finished products that are both provocative and innovative. Residency facilitates a highly collaborative artistic process that brings together a variety of participants, both artists and non-artists.
Where We Are
The Theatre Centre would like to acknowledge the sacred land on which we operate, which has been a site of human activity for thousands of years. Toronto comes from the Kanien’kéha word Tkaronto, which can be translated as “where the trees stand in water.” It is part of the traditional territory of many nations: the Wendat, the Haudenosaunee, and the Anishinaabe, including the Mississaugas of the New Credit. This land was the subject of the Dish with One Spoon wampum belt covenant, an agreement between the Haudenosaunee Confederacy and a confederacy of Anishinabek and allied nations to peaceably share and care for the resources around the Great Lakes. The Theatre Centre strives to honour the history of this land by sharing our space with all people—those Indigenous to Turtle Island, and those from all over the world.
The B.A.A.N.N. Theatre Centre was formed in 1979 by a co-operative of five independent theatre companies – Buddies in Bad Times Theatre, Autumn Leaf Theatre, AKA Performance Interface, Necessary Angel and Nightwood Theatre. They wanted a space to create, rehearse and present new work, a space where provocative ideas could be seen and heard. This group of artists went on to define a generation and inspire a new way of thinking about performance in Toronto.
By the mid-1980s, the founding companies left, and The Theatre Centre remained to assist other artists and groups. In 1984, the R+D (Research and Development) program was established and became the leading proponent for theatrical exploration in the city. In 2004, R+D was replaced by a two-year Residency Program. Over the years, The Theatre Centre has supported an unprecedented number of companies, productions, artists and ideas and continues to cultivate an environment that assists artistic risk takers: Jennifer Tarver, Chris Leavins, Sarah Stanley, bluemouth inc., Ame Henderson, ATSA, Cathy Gordon, Independent Aunties, Juliet Palmer, Michael Rubenfeld, One Reed Theatre, Jon McCurley & Ame Lam, Susanna Hood and Ravi Jain are just a few among them.
In 2002, The Theatre Centre presented its first Free Fall, a biennial festival dedicated to celebrating innovative boundary-testing work from across Canada and beyond.
Franco Boni was the Artistic Director of The Theatre Centre from 2003 to 2019.
In March 2014, the company moved into a new live arts hub & incubator at the historic Carnegie Library building at 1115 Queen Street West following a $6.2 million redevelopment of the heritage property.
In 2019, Aislinn Rose was appointed as the General and Artistic Director. Prior to that, Rose has been working at The Theatre Centre since May 2014 as General Manager and was named Creative Producer in 2017.