During the 1960s and ‘70s there was tremendous growth in the Canadian Theatre Industry; in Toronto alone, several new theatre companies emerged including Theatre Passe Muraille, the Tarragon and Factory theatres. The Canadian Government established several new granting organizations, initiating several arts funding programs dedicated to the burgeoning cultural industry. Ryerson Theatre School (RTS as it was known) opened its doors in 1971, the result of a recognized need for excellence in professional theatre training.
Jack McAllister, a veteran with decades of experience in the live performance industry, looked to London’s Central School of Speech and Drama as the model for Ryerson’s own theatre. Backed by then Dean of Applied Arts, Al Sauro, and President Fred Jorgenson, McAllister's proposal was accepted. Jorgenson's successor, Donald Mordell, approached McAllister 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.
In the beginning, training for acting and arts administration was offered as a four-year program and technical production and dance training was a three-year diploma. 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.
Ryerson’s School of Performance offers full-time four year BFAs in Acting, Dance and Production with facilities that include a proscenium stage, flexible black box studios, rehearsal rooms, dance studios, wood/ metal workshop, scenic art/drafting lab, costume workshops, and a range of other teaching spaces. Training is offered in acting, ballet, jazz, modern and contemporary dance, scenic and costume design, lighting design, sound design, technical theatre, playwriting and directing, production and stage management as well as audience relations.