Vertigo Mystery Theatre, based in Calgary Alberta, is the only professional theatre company in Canada that produces a full season of mystery plays. Founded as Pleiades Theatre in 1971, it has focused on the production of mystery plays since 1979, and changed its name in 2002. Since 2003 Vertigo Theatre Centre is located at the base of the Calgary Tower in Palliser Square, downtown Calgary, housing two performance venues and its two performance series, Vertigo Mystery Theatre and Y Stage (until 2017).
The first production in 1978 was Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap, which played almost every season until 1992. Notable productions have included Murder on the Nile, The 39 Steps, An Inspector Calls, Sleuth. Canadian plays include: Silver Dagger by David French (1994); The Reluctant Resurrection of Sherlock Holmes by David Belke (1995); Beautiful Lake Winnipeg by Maureen Hunter (1999); Tuesdays and Sundays by Medina Hahn and Daniel Arnold (2005); Blood Relations by Sharon Pollock (2009); Evelyn Strange by Stewart Lemoine which won a Betty Mitchell award for Best Production in 2010; When Girls Collide by Lemoine (2012); Nevermore (by Catalyst Theatre’s Jonathan Christenson and Bretta Gerecke, 2010).
Georgie Collins was the first Artistic Director of the Pleiades Theatre from 1976 to 1990; Stephen Hair was A.D from 1990 to 1995; John Paul Fishbach from 1995 to 2004 (during which time the name change to Vertigo Theatre occurred); Mark Bellamy from 2004 to 2012. From June 2012, the A.D. is Craig Hall.
Vertigo’s productions have proved popular in Calgary. In 2011 there were 5,200 subscribers and 25,000 single and group ticket buyers.
Y Stage was Calgary’s only theatre company presenting a full season of professionally produced theatre for young audiences. Productions included: Lig and Bittle by Elyne Quan and Jared Matsunga-Turnbull (Quest Theatre 2003); Secret Life of the Octopus by Clem Martini (Quest Theatre 2005); Bird Brain by Vern Thiessen (Quest Theatre 2008); King Arthur’s Kitchen by Leslie Mildiner (Axis Theatre Company 2010); The Tooth Fairy, a musical by the Old Trout Puppet Workshop with David Rhymer (2010); Invisible Girl by Michele Riml (Quest Theatre 2010); Raven Stole the Sun by Drew Hayden Taylor (Red Sky Performance 2010); The Shape of a Girl by Joan MacLeod (Green Thumb Theatre 2011). In 2017, Vertigo Theatre produced the last two plays in the Y Stage Theatre Series: The Star Keeper, a puppet play by Théâtre de l’Oeil; and a solo show by Australian, Tim Watts, The Adventures of Alvin Sputnik: Deep Sea Explorer, using mime, puppetry, live and recorded music, and animation to present an exploration of the next and oldest frontier: the deep blue sea.
Profile by Anne Nothof, Athabasca University
Last updated 2017-08-11