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Canadian Theatre Critics Association

The Canadian Theatre Critics Association (CTCA) was co-founded in 1979 by Founding Chair Herbert Whittaker, theatre critic for the Globe and Mail, and Founding President, Jeniva Berger, editor of Theatre Ontario's monthly magazine, Scene Changes. Federally incorporated in 1981, the Association's membership included theatre critics and writers from across the country as well as members of the Drama Bench, Toronto, which had sponsored the fledgling organization, and several Quebec theatre critics. In 1984 the Quebec Theatre Critics Association (Association québécoise des critiques de théâtre) was founded and became a full member of the CTCA until 1996. It remains an associate of the CTCA today with both organizations affiliated and working together with the International Association of Theatre Critics.

The mandate of the CTCA was to promote excellence in theatre criticism; to encourage the dissemination of information on theatre on a national level; to encourage the awareness and development of Canadian theatre nationally and internationally through theatre criticism in all the media; to improve the acceptance and publication of theatre criticism in Canada; to promote and encourage excellence in Canadian theatre through national awards; to improve the status and working conditions of theatre critics; to improve the training opportunities of theatre critics; and to develop a code of ethics for professional critics and their employees, adopted in 1987.

The Association has been the administrator of two major theatre awards, inherited from the Drama Bench, Toronto: the Nathan Cohen Award for Outstanding Theatre Criticism and the Herbert Whittaker/Drama Bench Award for Outstanding Contribution to Canadian Theatre, which recognizes the contribution of artists in all the theatrical disciplines. Winners of the latter award have included artists such as Joy Coghill, Monique Mercure, Brent Carver, Robert Lepage, and Ronnie Burkett.

An important project of the Association was the 1985 publication of Contemporary Canadian Theatre: New World Visions, edited by CTCA member Anton Wagner. The book provided a unique overview of the contemporary performing arts and their cultural and economic impact in French and English Canada, in a province- by-province assessment of playwriting, theatre production, theatre criticism, opera and dance, radio and TV drama.

In 1981 the CTCA began representing Canada at Congresses and executive meetings of the International Association of Theatre Critics. By 1984, new regional critics' organizations had begun to be formed including the Association québécoise des critiques de théâtre and the Capital Critics Circle in Ottawa. Two decades later, the CTCA continues to endeavor to bring recognition to the field of theatre criticism and the arts in general through its involvement in Canadian and international events.

Readings: Brian Brennan, "The Canadian Theatre Critics Association," Canadian Theatre Review 57 (Winter 1988), 47-48.

Anton Wagner, ed. Contemporary Canadian Theatre: New World Visions. Toronto: Simon & Pierre, 1985.

Anton Wagner, ed. Establishing Our Boundaries: English-Canadian Theatre Criticism. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1999.

CTCA website: www.canadiantheatrecritics.ca

Submitted by Jeniva Berger and Anton Wagner

Last updated 2012-11-07