Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre
The Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre (RMTC) is a professional not-for-profit in Winnipeg, Manitoba, founded in 1958 by Artistic Director John Hirsch and General Manager Tom Hendry. Inspired by the breadth and quality of the company’s programming, a whole network of what became known as “regional theatres” emerged across North America.
The Theatre’s History
When the Winnipeg Little Theatre and Theatre 77 merged to form the Manitoba Theatre Centre, their goal was to produce great theatre with mass appeal. Hirsch and Hendry staged professional productions of an eclectic array of plays – classics, Broadway hits, and new Canadian work. With the establishment of a second stage for experimental work in 1960 and an annual regional tour in 1961, MTC fully realized the founders’ original vision of a centre for theatre in Manitoba.
The theatre has produced more than 600 plays with thousands of actors, including Len Cariou, Graham Greene, Martha Henry, Judd Hirsch, Tom Hulce, William Hurt, Tom Jackson, Robert Lepage, Seana McKenna, Eric Peterson, Gordon Pinsent, Keanu Reeves, Fiona Reid, R.H. Thomson, Kathleen Turner, and Al Waxman.
The company produces in two primary venues – the John Hirsch Theatre at the Mainstage and the Tom Hendry Theatre at the Warehouse. In 2009, the Government of Canada designated the Mainstage building a National Historic Site and, in 2010, Queen Elizabeth granted the company a royal designation.
The Theatre Today
Under the leadership of Artistic Director Steven Schipper and General Manager Camilla Holland, Royal MTC remains Manitoba’s flagship theatre, presenting over 1,700 performances annually for more than 300,000 theatre-lovers. It produces six plays at the John Hirsch Theatre, four plays at the Tom Hendry Theatre, tour throughout Manitoba and Northwestern Ontario, a wide range of youth programming, and two annual festivals: the Master Playwright Festival founded in 2001, and the Winnipeg Fringe Theatre Festival (www.winnipegfringe.com), North America’s second-largest Fringe Festival, founded in 1988.
The Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre exists to celebrate the widest spectrum of theatre art. Deeply rooted in the province of Manitoba, which gave it life and provides for its growth, the theatre aspires to both reflect and inform the community it serves.