Theatre Saskatchewan

In the early 1930s an amateur theatre festival for groups in the province was established; at the 1933 competition, participants formed the Saskatchewan Drama League to “promote a right relationship between drama and the life of the community” through adjudicated festivals and other services, in alliance with the national Dominion Drama Festival (DDF). Annual regional competitions of the DDF consisted of several categories, including one for adult groups in rural areas. Senior winners were normally invited to a national play-off each year. The League disbanded in 1954, and its functions were transferred to the Saskatchewan Arts Board, which continued the yearly festivals. The last cross-Canada competition occurred in 1969, and although many other regional organizations disbanded as a result, Saskatchewan kept the tradition of a regional festival under the title DDF/Theatre Saskatchewan. The name changed to Theatre Saskatchewan in 1982.

After years of voluntary direction, a new era began in 1983 when increased funding, largely from lotteries, made a part-time office and executive director possible; these became full-time in 1986. Services were also improved: grants for equipment, a much-expanded lending library, more local and international festivals, new-play and other workshops, apprenticeships, and formation of the Margaret Woodward Hall of Fame to recognize significant contributions to theatre in the province. As a result, and despite fluctuations over the years, the organization presently includes eighty-six active community clubs and over 4,500 members, who entertain tens of thousands of theatre-goers in every part of the province.

Richard Harvey