Northern Light Theatre

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An Edmonton[1] theatre company founded in 1975 with a current mandate to produce intimate and affecting work.

Northern Light Theatre Logo


Northern Light Theatre was founded in 1975, by Scott Swan and Allan Lysell, as Edmonton's first lunch-hour theatre company. Northern Light Theatre (also known as NLT) performed lunch box performances in the Edmonton Art Gallery Theatre weekdays at noon. In the first season, 75/76, NLT presented 18 one-act productions, including musical revues, classics, and Canadian plays both old and new.[2]

Throughout the 70s and 80s, the company produced an astonishing number and variety of plays every year. NLT was showcasing the work of local playwrights like Jim De Felice alongside dramas by George Bernard Shaw and Brecht, taking on musical comedy, prairie drama, children's theatre and classics with never-flagging verve. In the summer of 1980, As You Like It and A Midsummer Night's Dream played in repertoire under a huge tent on Connors Hill giving Edmonton its first taste of Shakespeare in the Park.

After years of evolution and a widely varied programming mandate, NLT firmly branded itself as the alternative choice on the Edmonton theatre scene. The NLT mandate, re-written in 1994, is "to challenge both artists and audience by producing and developing provocative scripts- language-rich texts that are dark, poetic, funny- which reflect a complex world, and lead us to question our hierarchy of values."[3] As NLT celebrated its 25th anniversary in 1999/2000, it had established (through the tenure of D.D. Kugler, and Sandhano Schultze, who succeeded him) a reputation as an alternative theatre dedicated to development and innovation.

Over the past few years, NLT has further defined themselves as a company concentrated on embracing and promoting local Edmonton talent. Under Trevor Schimdt's creative artistic vision, with full support of the administrative team and the board, Northern Light Theatre is dedicated to producing intimate and affecting work that speaks to the modern audience of the urban human condition, the failure to find security and the loss of the dreams held by all for love and happiness.

NLT generally produces 3 -4 mainstage productions per year and hosts a children's theatre camp.[4] [5] While NLT produces extremely adult work it may seem out of character that they offer a children’s program. But so many of their audience members that came to see our mainstage shows inquired as to how they might have their children involved in a similar kind of exciting theatre world that would be appropriate for their ages. Knowing that the best way to ensure the audiences of the future is to instill in them a respect for the art today- the administration at NLT agreed that they would begin presenting a drama camp during the summer months when the office was finished with the mainstage season. The camp is instructed by local actress Maralyn Ryan, who creates a brand-new adaptation of a classic tale for children and combines local historical anecdotes in order to teach history as well as acting. The camp consists of two separate age groups, ages 5-8 and 9-18 and runs each summer. The camp has been running for ten years and has many repeat attendees – and their siblings often join the program as well.[6]

NLT values its position on the far end of the spectrum within their local theatre community, and feels it has a unique role to play as an outspoken and purposefully controversial not-for-profit theatre. The company hopes to make contact and develop ongoing relationships and partnerships with similar-minded companies within their province and country in the years to come. In the uncertain political/economic times, NLT has considered that it may be safest to rely on pieces with mass appeal in terms of theme, and/or featuring well-known playwrights or titles. However, the company feels strongly that it is in the best interests of NLT to stick close to their mandate and legacy by seeking out plays that are unknown to our audiences. This process is often done through a lengthy process of trailing the Internet, searching for new, unusual and intriguing works that have usually not been seen by North American audiences. NLT is known for mixing new Canadian works with obscure, fringe-like pieces from the European continent and beyond, all of which contain adult and often controversial themes and/or content. Audience members have fondly revered NLT.[7] NLT is proud to be identified as the only company in their city that regularly programs international work and they have a clearly defined niche audience within Edmonton.


NLT feels great freedom to program within their mandate, but also hold certain ideals to their mandate as well. These are:

  • A strong representation of women on stage
  • Inclusive and diverse casting
  • Roles for new, emerging, and up-and-coming artists
  • New play development
  • Directing mentorship
  • Internships for students to work alongside established mentors in a professional production environment.

Name:Northern Light Theatre
Location:#203, 10816A 82 Avenue Edmonton, Alberta
Category:Non-Profit Company