Professional francophone theatre company in Edmonton Alberta, established in 1992 with the fusion of Théâtre francais d’Edmonton (1967) and La Boîte à Popicos (1978). The company presents plays for adult and youth audiences, and offers theatre workshops in schools across the province and summer camps. It performs in the theatre of Cité Francophone, with a season of four plays. UniThéâtre also tours at least one production in the province, and has sponsored the Festival théâtre jeunesse, the Bureau d’animation théâtrale, and the Festival de la dramaturgie des prairies.
In 2008 the company began to project surtitles in English above its productions to attract a wider audience, and to effect a cross-cultural experience.
The mandate of the theatre is to produce the works of Alberta artists, rather than simply borrowing Quebecois culture. Edmonton playwright Kenneth Brown’s play Cowboy Poetry, inspired by the francophone prairie rodeo circuit, was performed in translation in 2005. It was subsequently performed by invitation at Théâtre populaire d’Acadie in Caroquet, New Brunswick, and Théâtre l’Escaouette in Moncton.
Fort Mac, a new play by Marc Prescott, which chronicles the effects of the Alberta oil boom on a family, travelled to the Festival Zones Théâtrales in Ottawa, and Théâtre Denise-Pelletier in Montreal in 2007.
In its 2007/08 season, UniThéâtre produced a translation of Joan MacLeod’s The Shape of a Girl; a bilingual Canadian play, L’Homme invisible, based on a 1981 verse tale by Franco-Ontarian poet Patrice Desbiens, about a man who feels he has disappeared between two cultures; and La Caravane théâtrale (Molière/Rostand/Fables de La Fontaine). It also produced Le cadeau d’Einstein, a translation by Manon Beaudoin of Einstein’s Gift by Vern Thiessen.
In February 2011, UniThéâtre presented a moving production of La Peau d'Elisa by Carole Fréchette, with Holly Turner as Elisa, which then travelled to Vancouver's Théâtre la Seizième. In March 2012, it hosted a Théâtre d'Aujourdhui production of La Liste by Jennifer Tremblay, starring the incomparable Sylvie Drapeau.
The 2012/13 season included an outstanding production of Porc-epic by David Paquet in a co-production with Théâtre la Seizième -- an entertaining, disconcerting, unpredictable play about lonely people longing to make a connection with someone else. The 2013/14 season was launched with a premiere of Joelle Préfontaine's Récolte, produced in collaboration with Quebec's Théâtre Sortie de Secours. Set in rural Alberta, Récolte uncovers tragic family secrets through the frought relationship of a brother and sister.
The Artistic Director from 1992 to 2011 was Daniel Cournoyer. In March 2012, Brian Dooley became Artistic Director. His intention was to continue the development of new French plays and to serve the English as well as the French community. In April, 2016, Dooley co-starred with Manon Beaudoin in The Passion of Narcisse Mondoux by Gratien Gélinas, playing alternate nights in English and French, in a co-production with Northern Light Theatre (dir. Trevor Schmidt).
Joëlle Préfontaine was appointed Artistic Director in 2018, with the objective of pursuing further collaborations with English-language theatres in Edmonton. Vincent Forcier is the current A.D.
UniThéâtre is subsidized by the Alberta Foundation for the Arts. In 2013, it was cited by the Elizabeth Sterling Haynes Awards (Sterling Awards) Committee for "Outstanding Contribution to Theatre in Edmonton."
Source: Liz Nicholls. Edmonton Journal 3 April 2008.
Profile by Anne Nothof, Athabasca University
Last updated 2021-04-14