History

History

Photo of Carol Libman and Roy Higgins

Playwrights’ Workshop Montréal was founded in 1963 by the Western Quebec Division of the Dominion Drama Festival. The brainchild of Canadian theatre artists Guy Beaulne, Dan Daniels, Carol Libman, Aviva Ravel, Walter Massey and Victor Knight, the organization’s first mission was to tackle the then scarcity of English-Canadian plays and playwrights. Soon after its conception, PWM became a leading voice in the creation of new plays.

Under Roy Higgins’ artistic direction in the seventies, PWM took steps to becoming a producing theatre and purchased a building in Old Montréal. However, the tension between production and development became too great and the project was quickly dismantled.

In 1975, Bob White became PWM’s first Dramaturg-Artistic Director. With a view to protecting the development process from production pressures, he strengthened the organization’s focus on dramaturgy and development. Subsequent ADs Per Brask and Brian Richmond continued to build on this legacy and worked to expand the organization’s reach from coast to coast.

In 1981, AD Rina Fraticelli added translation to PWM’s programming. Michael Springate, Svetlana Zylin, Michael Devine and Peter Smith succeeded Rina Fraticelli as artistic directors. Each contributed to increasing PWM’s profile both locally and nationally.

Photo of old PWM members sitting on the floor having a good time

As Artistic Director from 1998 to 2007, Paula Danckert increased PWM’s artistic stability by introducing the permanent position of Dramaturg-in-Residence. In 2006, with support from Briony Glassco, she established the Tadoussac Playwrights’ Residence. Recently, in honour of the residency’s late founder Bill Glassco, the program was renamed: Glassco Translation Residency in Tadoussac.

Decade at a Glance

Emma Tibaldo was appointed Artistic and Executive Director in September 2007. Her priority has been to encourage the continued development of professional theatre locally. To this end, she has worked closely with theatre companies and artists across the province. At the same time, she has welcomed visiting artists from across the country to develop work and to share their expertise with local artists. She has also strengthened the organization’s involvement in theatre translation.

In 2013, Playwrights’ Workshop Montréal celebrated its 50th anniversary. In the last ten years alone, nearly 200 plays developed at PWM have been produced across Canada and the world. Among these success stories are translations of plays initiated, commissioned and dramaturged here.

Photo of Emma Tibaldo in black and white