Founded in 1981 by actor/playwright Maxim Mazumdar(1953-88) as an offshoot of the Stephenville Theatre Festival and the Provincial Drama Academy, Theatre Newfoundland Labrador is now based in Corner Brook, Newfoundland in the Arts and Culture Centre.
TNL’s mandate is to create and produce professional theatre which reflects the lives and diversity of audiences on the province's west coast, extending to Labrador and across the island of Newfoundland. Through the Gros Morne Theatre Festival in the summer, youth theatre programming, main stage productions, courses in theatre instruction, and by touring productions to outport communities, TNL seeks to provide Newfoundlanders with thought-provoking and relevant entertainment, with an emphasis on regional and Canadian work (website).
Edmund MacLean was Artistic Director from 1981 to 1991, followed by Jerry Etienne, and the current AD, Jeff Pitcher.
TNL typically produces four professional main stage works, one play by the youth theatre group, and a community musical each season. It features plays from the classical and modern repertoire, including Canadian plays by David French (Salt-Water Moon and Jitters); John Gray (Billy Bishop Goes to War); and Bernard Slade (Same Time, Next Year). In the 1996/97 season, TNL produced an adaptation of Joan Clark’s Viking saga, Eirksdottir , and in the 1998/99 season Tom Cahill’s The Only Living Father.
In 1996 TLN established the Gros Morne Theatre Festival, which runs from the end of May to mid-September in Cow Head. The Festival uses local history as a basis for many of its plays, including improv comedy sketches called “Neddy Norris Nights.” Each summer the Festival produces seven plays in three venues. The 2005 season included a return engagement of Tempting Providence by Robert Chafe, the dramatic biography of Nurse Myra Bennett, who came to Newfoundland in 1921 in response to the need for nurses, and became known as the “Florence Nightingale of the North.” Tempting Providence toured across Canada, appearing in Magnetic North Theatre Festival in Edmonton, Alberta in June 2004, in the UK at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, and in Australia. It was nominated for a 2004 Governor General’s Award, and has been published by Playwrights Canada Press. The 2005 Festival also featured Stars in the Morning Sky by Rhonda Payne, who performed with the Mummers Troupe in Newfoundland in the 1970s. Stars in the Morning Sky is a collective creation, based on the stories of Payne’s family that she taped in 1976-77. It dramatizes life in Newfoundland through the eyes of several generations of women struggling to raise families in the outports.
In the summer of 2009 the Gros Morne Theatre Festival produced all of David French's "Mercer plays" -- the history of a family of Newfoundlanders.
Anne Nothof, Athabasca University
Last updated 2020-07-17