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A short history of the Canadian Players, 1954-1966 Penistan, Violet Mary


A brief history of the Canadian Players, a theatre company which toured across Canada and the United States from 1954 -1966. The company played in cities and university centres and in small towns and communities from Moosonee and Flin Ron in the North to the southern United States and from Newfoundland and the New England States to Vancouver Island and southern California. The nucleus of the Canadian Players came from the Stratford Shakespearean Festival. Robin Patterson and Laurel Crosby crossed the continent as agents of the company, interesting influential citizens in sponsoring a theatrical company performing the plays of Shaw and Shakespeare. From a small company of eight actors performing Saint Joan on a bare stage the company grew to two casts and crews of up to twenty members, who spent eight months annually travelling by bus to perform across the length and breadth of the continent. The information about the Canadian Players was obtained from letters, chiefly those from Robin Patterson to Tom Pattterson, from newspaper reviews and reports in the press,which are gathered together in several scrap books, vertical files and micro-fiche in the Theatre Department of the Toronto reference Libr ary and from conversations with some of the surviving members of the company. Most of these conversations have been recorded on tape. Other information was gathered from transcripts from taped interviews which were supplied by Robin Patterson. I was also privileged to be permitted the use of manuscript material of Florence Pelton Patterson, the first secretary, and that of Tony Van Bridge, an actor and director for several years. The contribution made to Canadian theatre by the Canadian Players in their taking drama to every part of the country and their involvement of local communities in developing an audience for the regional and other theatres which followed them is discussed.

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