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"To foster, produce and promote excellent theatre that provokes examination of Canadian life and our place in the world."
GCTC’s legal name is Great Canadian Theatre Corporation and it is a federally incorporated not-for-profit corporation set up to deliver programs for the benefit of the public good. GCTC is also a registered charity (119235836 RR0001) which allows the company to issue tax receipts for donations.
In 2013-2014, GCTC is celebrating its 39th anniversary season and we have great cause to celebrate our achievements. Ottawa is rich in arts organizations. Yet none is quite like the Great Canadian Theatre Company. GCTC represents a viewpoint and approach to theatre that no other arts organization in this community is exploring. With a long history of creating theatre that is compassionate, thought provoking and immediately relevant, we produce theatre that does not prescribe a point of view, but rather encourages audience members to engage in debate and discussion. GCTC is committed to the production of new Canadian work producing over 80 and artist development. We continue to commission and workshop new plays by emerging and established playwrights.
Last season over 30,000 people attended our productions. In describing what they like best about GCTC, our audience members often refer to the quality and variety of the plays presented, the intimacy of the theatre space, our Canadian content and our flexible subscription pass. Most importantly though, we continue to bring Canadian theatre to an ever-expanding audience including over 1000 students from local high schools, Carleton University, University of Ottawa, and Algonquin College attend GCTC productions through our student matinee program or with a student subscription.
GCTC is a vital contributor to the quality of life in Ottawa and a hub for the local arts community. GCTC has consistently challenged and entertained local audiences, provided employment for local residents and delivered concrete economic impact to local businesses, while providing a venue for a wide range of cultural activities.
More than 35,000 people visit the Irving Greenberg Theatre Centre every year to see productions by GCTC and other live performing arts companies, for concerts such as the Acoustic Waves music series, to visit the Lorraine Fritzi Yale Art Gallery, rent the facility, or to enjoy delicious local fare at the Michel-Ange Café.
GCTC’s Education Program is committed to developing artistic learning opportunities for young people in Ottawa, to foster lifelong connections to the arts and their own community. GCTC is committed to supporting the local arts community by hosting and mentoring emerging theatre and performing arts groups. The theatre company has also contributed to, and partnered with, local social cause-related organizations; has had an thirteen year partnership with our legal community to produce the annual lawyer play fundraiser; and supports the community through our community giving program.
The Great Canadian Theatre Company was founded in 1975 by a group of professors and graduate students at Carleton University. Riding a wave of cultural nationalism, founders Robin Matthews, Larry McDonald, Bill Law, Greg Reid and Lois Shannon envisioned a theatre company that would produce only Canadian plays, especially those with social and political relevance. Driven by a dream to place Canadian stories and Canadian history front and centre in our country’s universities and theatres, the company launched its first production in August of 1975.
For several years, GCTC was entirely volunteer-run, performing first at the University, and then in the Old Firehall that is now the Ottawa South Community Centre. Even as a young company, the GCTC founders knew that there was an audience that craved Canadian theatre that is emotionally charged, intellectually engaging and socially and politically relevant.
In 1982, with a huge outpouring of support from the City of Ottawa, then-Mayor Marion Dewar, Councillor Toddy Kehoe, the financial backing of 700 people and the technical assistance of Phil Sharp of the School of Architecture at Carleton University, GCTC claimed its own permanent home at 910 Gladstone Avenue by transforming a truck repair garage into a 230-seat theatre.
The new theatre opened with the collectively authored Sandinista! a large-scale production about Nicaragua that went on to tour nationally to critical acclaim.
During the 1980s and 1990s, the company expanded both its staff and audience. It gained national recognition for producing the work of notable Canadian playwrights, as well as
Ottawa-based writers. The company began to commission and premiere new plays, and also added the production of contemporary international work to its mandate. GCTC has produced over 84 world premieres to its credit.
GCTC Artistic Directors include Lois Shannon (1975), William Law (1975-1978), Larry McDonald (1978-1980), Patrick McDonald (1980-1987), Steven Bush (1987-1992), Arthur Milner (1992-1995), Micheline Chevrier (1995-1999) Lorne Pardy (1999-2005) and Lise Ann Johnson (2005-2012).
By the dawn of the 21st century, GCTC had outgrown its facility at 910 Gladstone and in 2002; the board and staff of GCTC began planning for a capital project. In 2004, GCTC announced that the family of the late Irving Greenberg would be donating $2.5 million dollars, the largest private donation to an Ottawa arts organization towards the construction of a new home for GCTC at the corner of Holland and Wellington in Kitchissippi Ward. Construction of the Irving Greenberg Theatre Centre was completed in the summer of 2007, launching a new era in the company’s history. The Irving Greenberg Theatre Centre, which includes a 262-seat mainstage theatre, a flexible black box studio theatre, and two spacious lobbies, has allowed GCTC to expand its community-based activities.
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