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Ryerson Theatre School

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Peggy Shannon Peggy Shannon
Chair, Ryerson Theatre School

Welcome to the Theatre School at Ryerson University!

The complexity, diversity and creativity of the arts often engage theatre and other disciplines in bold and transformational creative partnerships. Theatre can provide an excellent means of exploring societal issues that are intertwined at local, national and global levels. The human factor in the arts, the exploration of quality of life issues, nation building, and cultural/political mores that are critical to future progress of humanity, can stimulate cultural vitality, economic prosperity, and social harmony.The arts, then, are truly an essential part of the human experience.

Training the next generation of theatre and dance artists is a thrilling and important task for all of us at the Ryerson Theatre School. We proudly offer you our productions that will showcase the accomplishments of our four-year Bachelor of Fine Arts in Performance (Acting, Dance and Production).

To help guide them on their way, we have an outstanding team of instructors, production personnel and managers who have instilled in the students the discipline and skill to interpret the vision of others, as well as the initiative and ability to seek their own voices through the stories and ideas they wish to convey. Our dedicated team of distinguished guest directors, choreographers and designers join us in guiding our talented young artists throughout the performance process.

We look forward to seeing you at the theatre!

Peggy Shannon
Chair, Ryerson Theatre School


History of the Ryerson Theatre School

The 1960s and 70s were a time of great growth in theatre. Toronto alone saw the rise of several alternative theatres such as Theatre Passe Muraille, the Tarragon and Factory theatres. The Canadian Government was extremely supportive with regard to creating granting organizations and governmental arts funding programs. Jack McAllister, a veteran Ryerson instructor with decades of experience in the live performance industry, recognized the need for professional theatre training to meet the demand.

Our Beginnings

Backed by the then Dean of Applied Arts, Al Sauro, and President Fred Jorgenson, McAllister's proposal identified London's prestigious Central School of Speech and Drama as the model for Ryerson's new Theatre program. McAllister's proposal was accepted, and in the spring and summer of 1970 he began the search for facilities, instructors, and students. Jorgenson's successor, Donald Mordell, approached McAllister that summer with a recommendation to incorporate the Canadian College of Dance in Montreal (associated with the Royal Academy of Dancing and the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing) into Ryerson's new theatre program. When the Theatre School opened in 1971, Ryerson became one of only two schools in North America to offer full-time professional theatre training in acting, dance teaching, arts administration, and technical production under one roof.

In May 2000, Perry Schneiderman was appointed Chair of the Theatre School. Highly respected in professional circles in Canada and abroad, Mr. Schneiderman has been affiliated with a diverse range of theatrical institutions including the Stratford Festival, McGill and Concordia Universities, The Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, the Moscow Art Theatre School, the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, Cirque du Soleil, and the National Theatre School, where he served in the capacity of Artistic Director of the School's English Acting and Playwriting Section.

Our Location

Although the Theatre School was originally housed at 101 Gerrard Street, due to the popularity of its programs it moved to its current location in the historic Pharmacy Building at 44/46 Gerrard Street East. The Theatre School's productions are performed either in the smaller Abrams Studio (named for late Design teacher Tony Abrams), or the 1250-seat Ryerson Theatre at 43 Gerrard Street East.

Our Academics

When it opened, Ryerson Theatre School offered four distinct programs: acting, arts administration (four-year degree programs), dance, and technical production (three-year diploma programs). The arts administration and technical production programs have since been amalgamated. Since 1999 the Theatre School has offered four-year degree programs for all three areas, with all of its students now graduating with Bachelor of Fine Arts degrees.

Our Guest Artists

Ryerson Theatre School is well known for the interaction between its students and current arts professional. The school draws upon the country?s top artists and arts managers to guest lecture, conduct workshops, direct, choreograph, and even design its senior productions. Distinguished guest artists and faculty have included:

Leah Cherniak, Co-Artistic Director, Theatre Columbus
Robert Desrosiers, Internationally acclaimed choreographer
Danny Grossman, Artistic Director, Danny Grossman Dance Company
Eda Holmes, Award-winning director and choreographer
Richard Greenblatt, Writer and director
Christopher House, Artistic Director, Toronto Dance Theatre 
Bengt Jorgen, Artistic Director and founder of Ballet Jorgen
Winston Morgan, Director of S.M.ARTS (Stage Management for the Arts)
Kelly Robinson, Director, choreographer, and Director of Creative Development for Mirvish Productions
Jennifer Tarver, Award-winning Director, Founder of Theatre Extasis, Associate Director of Theatre Centre

Our Alumni

The most enduring measure or the quality of a training program is the professional reputation of its alumni. Ryerson Theatre School has been graduating students since 1974, and their performers, technicians, arts administrators, and arts managers have all earned worldwide distinction for their talent, versatility, and professionalism. Among our alumni:

Eric McCormack, TV's Will and Grace
Steve Allerick Chan, Disney's The Lion King
Lisa Codrington, Actor and Governor General Award-nominated playwright
David James Elliott, TV's JAG
Michael Healey, playwright (The Drawer Boy)
Peter Hinton, Artistic Director of the National Arts Centre English Theatre
Camillia Koo, Goveror General Award-winning Designer 
Simon Marsden, Head of Production, Royal Shakespeare Company
Andrew North, formerly Production Stage Manager, Stratford Festival
Marshall Pynkoski and Jeanette Zingg, Artistic Directors, Opera Atelier
Ruth Smillie, Artistic Director of the Regina Globe Theatre
Sonja Smits, TV's Traders
Tonya Lee Williams, Young and the Restless

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