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Montreal Repertory Theatre

Bilingual amateur company in Montreal, Quebec, founded in 1930 by Martha Allan as the Theatre Guild of Montreal. Its first two production - The Perfect Alibi by A.A. Milne, and Candida by Bernard Shaw were performed at McGill University, and its initial support came primarily from the Anglophone communities of Montreal and Ottawa. Lord Bessborough, the Governor General, designed the set for the 1933 Ottawa co-production of Hamlet, in which his son played the leading role.

In 1932 MRT initiated a Workshop season of new Canadian plays, half of them in French, and in 1933, it opened a School of Theatre.

Like Compagnons de Saint-Laurent, and Hart House Theatre, it was a major player in Canada's "Little Theatre" movement. It won awards for its productions in the Dominion Drama Festival, and helped to develop the careers of many professional actors by training them through the classics of the repertory, both ancient and modern. Among the most prominent actors were Yvette Brind'Amour, Janine Sutto, Denise Pelletier, Amelia Hall, Hume Cronyn, Gratien Gélinas,John Colicos, Jean-Louis Roux, William Shatner and Christopher Plummer.

In 1942 the Company acquired a tiny theatre and focused more on the production of classics from England and the US. Directors Charles Rittenhouse and Herbert Whittaker produced an annual Shakespeare play. The theatre was destroyed by fire in 1952, and productions took place in school auditoria. In 1956 the Company turned professional, but disbanded under the weight of an accumulated debt in 1961.

An archival collection on this subject is available at the Toronto Reference Library.

Source: Herbert Whittaker, "Montreal Repertory Theatre," The Oxford Companion to Canadian Theatre, ed. Eugene Benson and L.W. Conolly. Toronto: Oxford UP, 1989.

Last updated 2012-06-07