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What's in a name?

Honouring the faculty for whom our studios were named.

By Jeanette Reyes

As I first stepped foot into the new Student Learning Centre (SLC) building as a first-year student in 2018, I smelled the newness and saw the cleanliness. I wondered, ‘was this a new building?’ I shamelessly felt prideful, like the first student to become someone who could make a difference on this new site. ‘I am one of the first students to be a part of this new location’, I thought. But I wondered… if the theatre school had been operating for many years, where is the history? Upon research, I discovered that in 2016, the theatre school moved from 44 Gerrard Street to this space at 345 Yonge Street. I’ve only ever heard the old studio names including McAllister Studio, the Lloyd and Graham, and I wondered ‘who are these people ? What is their significance?’ In the past 50 years, essential community members contributed so much to the development of the school. This summer, I was given the grandest opportunity to dive deeper into the school’s history through interviews with past faculty members and trips to the library for archives. Thankfully, I found the answers to this question: What’s in a name?

Click through below to learn about the remarkable individuals for whom our studios were named.

Reflections

As I enter into my 4th year, I’m no longer the young adult so narrow-minded to believe that there wasn’t much to the school when there is so much and more! Not just because I was only able to get through a quarter of a million articles and files at the library, but also because of the many people I’ve met and the relationships I’ve fostered. The things I’ve learned about the school will continue to be talked about. I will forever be grateful for this opportunity to absorb the rich history of a strong theatre community. 

This intimate research gives me hope that I can be as gracious as Nadia Potts, stern with work and organization like Jean Charles Black, and creative as Tony Abrams. I wish I could share more stories about the many other faculty and staff members throughout the years (in fact I actually have an ongoing list of 100+ staff and faculty that have also been impactful to the school). Still, for now, this original question of “Who are these buildings named after” was just my starting point. I hope to continue questioning, wondering, and learning about the school. If you have any more stories to share about these significant people, please do! Hopefully, you’ll be exposed to more stories and integral leaders from the past that'll spark a passion inside you this anniversary year.

As a final note, I hope to embody what Jack McAllister carried throughout the years at the performance school. That is, fostering a community with my colleagues and peers to support one another in future endeavours, come back frequently to visit staff and faculty and continue making a name for myself. 

A huge special thanks to Peter Fleming for letting me pick his brain and the never-ending conversations we have about the school, Jean Charles Black for instantly making me feel like a student of hers, Stephen Franklin, Maisie Macphee, Jo Abrams, Tanya Evidente, for sharing their beautiful memories, Vicki St. Denys, Caroline O’Brien, for their unwavering support, Rosalynn from the Archives and Special Collections at our university, Tanvi and Betty for their motivating encouragement, and lastly Madeline Smith, the most supportive mentor I’ve had the pleasure of working with this summer.