LW Conolly Theatre Archives

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Since 1969 the library has been acquiring theatre collections, but it was really during the 1980s after the formal establishment of Archival & Special Collections that Leonard Conolly’s leadership as chair of the Drama Department (1981-1988) and later as Associate Vice-President Academic (1988-1992) helped firmly establish the University of Guelph as a destination for the study of theatre history. It was through Conolly’s contacts and discussions with significant Ontario theatres such as Phoenix and Tarragon in Toronto and the Grand in London, that soon led to their boards to agree to donate what was then a precious but endangered cultural heritage for Canadian drama and theatre. These rich and varied holdings, now known as The L.W. Conolly Theatre Archives, have become a major resource used by Guelph faculty and students as well as researchers within Canada and from around the world.

Collection strengths

The collections are focused on the work of Bernard Shaw; modern Ontario theatre companies; and playwrights, actors, directors, designers, cutters, and administrators active in Ontario theatre life. Over the years, the library's commitment has grown significantly to the point that it has become the largest collection of Canadian theatre and Shaw-related materials in Canada with more than 200 collections in its holdings.

A list of Archival & Special Collections Resources
Alan NunnBritish-born actor and administrator who worked in theatres across England and Canada, including the Red Barn, Crest Theatre, National Arts Centre, National Ballet School, Shaw and Stratford Festivals1934-2003
Andy McKimAn award-winning Canadian director, dramaturge, and teacher with a distinguished career in supporting new play development in Canada.1960-2019
Arthur PensonA Canadian set and costume designer originally from British Columbia who has designed for theatres across the country, as well as in England and Ireland.1978-2002
Associated Designers of CanadaA professional association that acts as a bartering agent primarily for set designers. This collection focuses on Canada's participation in the Prague Quadriennale.1966-1988
Association for Canadian Theatre Research This professional association is dedicated to preserving Canadian theatre by bringing arts and academics together. It publishes in Theatre Research in Canada/Recherche du théâtre au Canada.1976-2003
Augustin HamonA French socialist-anarchist who translated George Bernard Shaw's plays into French.1876-1939
Barry MacGregorCanadian actor, director, teacher, and theatre administrator notable for his work with the Royal Shakespeare Company in the UK and the Shaw and Stratford Festivals in Ontario.1920-2016
Barry MorseEnglish-Canadian actor known for his roles in the TV series The Figitive and sci-fi film Space 1999 but who performed thousands of roles in TV, radio, film, and theatre1919-2011
Black Theatre CanadaPrimarily production and publicity records for one of Canada's best known late-twentieth century Black theatre companies, which has since ceased operation. 1973-1988
Blyth Festival This is a smaller company that operates out of Blyth, Ontario, and focuses on featuring and producing exclusively Canadian content. 1975-present
Cahoots Theatre ProjectCahoots is a multicultural theatre company that promotes and supports new writing projects. It now functions under the name Cahoots Theatre Company.1986-1991
Cameron PorteousSet and costume designer, notable for his work as head of design at the Vancouver Playhouse (1972-1981) and director of design at the Shaw Festival (1980-1997).1972-2005
Canadian PlayersCanadian Players was a professional theatre company that toured Canada, primarily performing the works of George Bernard Shaw and William Shakespeare. It has since ceased operation. 1954-1966
Canadian Stage CompanyAdministrative and production records of this major professional theatre company in Toronto, ON, formed from a merger of Toronto Free Theatre and CentreStage.1988-present
Carole CorbeilMontreal-born arts critic and award-winning novelist with a fondness and sensitivity to theatre.1952-2000
Carousel PlayersDesigned for a younger audience, this theatre company focuses on encouraging the innovation and creation of new works by school-aged children.1972-2014
Cecil O'NealDirector of Productions at Stratford Festival (1975-1985) and Professor of Theatre, Meadows School of the Arts at Southern Methodist University (1988 to 2011).1975-1985
CentreStageProduction, publicity, and administrative files of CentreStage, a professional theatre company in Toronto, ON, which merged in 1988 with Toronto Free Theatre to form the Canadian Stage Company. 1963-1988
Charles Palmer and Lillian GrahamBritish-born actors who moved to Vancouver in 1937 and in 1946 resettled in Toronto and resumed their acting careers.1845-1990
Christopher NewtonBritish-born actor, playwright, and artistic director, founding director of Theatre Calgary (1968-1971), artistic director of the Vancouver Playhouse (1973-1979), and of the Shaw Festival (1980-2002).1941-2013
Christopher NewtonFormer Artistic Director of the Vancouver Playhouse and Shaw Festival, founding Artistic Director of Theatre Calgary, and director at numerous Canadian and international theatre companies1968-present
Citizens Theatre (Glasgow)An international Scottish flagship company based in Glasgow. 1944-1985
Colleen CurranMontreal-based playwright and novelist whose work is a favourite at the Blyth Festival.1981-2005
Colleen MurphyGovernor-General's Award winning Quebec-born playwright, screenwriter, librettist, and film director.1918-2017
Creative TrustThis professional organization worked with theatre, dance, and music companies to help with organizational sustainability and improving financial standing. It has since ceased operation. 1998-2010
Crest TheatreOperating between 1954-1966, Crest Theatre was a company that focused on both modern and classic works. It is no longer in operation. 1954-1966
Dan H Laurence & Shaviana CollectionsMaterials collected by George Bernard Shaw scholar and bibliographer Dan Laurence with some additions by other Shaw researchers.1856-2005
David AntscherlOntario-based artist, instructor, actor, art director, and a set and production designer for both stage and film
David Lee fondsPhotographic work of Toronto-based freelance photographer David Lee, related to Canadian theatres.1984-2003, bulk 1990-1992
Earle Grey Shakespeare FestivalFormed by British actors Earle Grey and Mary Godwin, the Earle Grey Shakespearean Festival is a topical festival focusing solely on the works of William Shakespeare. It ceased operation in 1958.1949-1958
Elgin and Winter Garden Theatres A collection featuring two theatres that operated in the same building. These theatres are no longer producing live performances.1914-15, 1987-1990
Equity Showcase TheatreThis not-for-profit organisation encouraged the artistic development of theatre professionals. 1959-2007
Eugene Benson fondsContains first editions, draft editions and working copies of creative works by Eugene Benson, correspondence, newspaper clippings, photos and slides.1915-2012
FLIP PublicityA public relations agency with a focus on theatre and other performing arts. 1988-2010
Factory TheatreFactory Theatre is an experimental theatre based in Toronto which creates and features new Canadian Content only.1970-1996
Gaiety Theatre (Manchester)A now closed theatre that was used throughout the early to mid 20th Century in England. 1904
Grand TheatreA professional Ontario theatre that opened in 1901 and is still producing live performances today. 1985-Present
Great Canadian Theatre CompanyFormed in 1975, this Canadian theatre was created by U of Ottawa Students and Professors. 1975-1993
Ground Zero ProductionsThis controversial topical theatre was originally based in Toronto but has since moved to Alberta. 1982-1997
Guelph Light Opera CompanyA small company, focused on vocal talent, that is no longer in operation.1971
Guelph Spring FestivalA local festival that has been in operation since 1968 featuring both national and international talent.1968-present.
Independent Theatre London (England)A theatre that once put on a performance of Bernard Shaw's Widowers' Houses. 1891-1894
International Stage in the Bernhardt Era ConferenceA conference that coincided with the Guelph Spring Festival in 1977.1977
International Women Playwrights ConferenceA yearly conference organised by women for women. 1984-1991
Jacob & Sparrow's Opera HouseA small opera company that functioned out of Toronto, ON. It is no longer in operation. 1891, ca. 1895
Leonard Conolly fondsDistinguished Ontario-based author, editor, teacher and theatre scholar.1900-2017
Lighthouse Festival TheatreA professional Ontario theatre in Southern Ontario that focuses on producing purely Canadian shows. 1980-2007
Linda Griffiths fondsScripts, reviews, posters, DVDs, VHS, books, research material.1978-2014
Lorraine Kimsa Theatre for Young PeopleThis is a smaller theatre company that produces Canadian works featuring school aged children.1966-2003
Maxine Alexandra Grahamoriginal set and costumes designed by Maxine Alexandra Graham covering some of her work with Theatre Aquarius and major theatre across Canada dating back to 1965.1965-2007
Museum Children's TheatreA theatre company that offered opportunities for children to experience theatre and the arts.1964-65
Native Earth Performing ArtsA topical production company focusing on providing opportunities both on stage and behind the scenes for Indigenous people. 1981-2000
Ne'er Do Well ThespiansThis Toronto based company focused solely on Canadian content. It is no longer in operation. 1975-1982
Necessary AngelNecessary Angel is a professional company that focuses on creating works that challenge and engage audiences. It is still in operation. 1978-present
New TheatreThis was an alternate theatre in Toronto.1971-1982
Nightwood Theatre The oldest professional women's theatre company in Canada, operating out of Toronto, ON. 1979-present
Open Circle TheatreThis topical theatre produced socially centred works as well as adaptations to classics and musicals. It is no longer in operation. 1973-1982
Outaouais Popular Theatre ArchivesAn Ottawa based topical theatre company that challenged the societal norms with its productions. It is no longer in operation. 1975-1994
Pacific Shaw FestivalAn offshoot of the Shaw Festival taking part on the Canadian west coast, sponsored by the Coconut Theatre Society in Vancouver. It lasted for one season, 1990-1991.1990-1991
Penguin Theatre This company, formed in Ottawa in 1976, focused on small, intimate productions to allow interaction between the actors and audience. It has since ceased operation.1976-1980
Phillip Silver fondsProfessional papers of Phillip Silver, a significant Canadian set designer, lighting designer, and costume designer.1967-2019, bulk 1967-2012
Phoenix TheatreFounded in Edmonton in 1981 by Keith Digby, Phoenix Theatre focused on Canadian works. It has since ceased operation. 1974-1983
Play ActorsPlay Actors operated out of Toronto from 1953-1958.1953-1958
Playwrights Union of CanadaHaving gone by many names, the Playwrights Union of Canada functioned from 1984-2002, when it was renamed the Playwrights Guild of Canada. Its purpose was to support playwrights locally and abroad. 1971-1985
Playwrights' Workshop MontrealA play development organisation that was founded in 1963. 1963-2010
Professional Association of Canadian Theatres (PACT)A professional company that helps Canadian Theatres with promotion and providing leadership. 1976-1991
Road Show Theatre CompanyA travelling theatre company that began in the Muskokas and then settled in Guelph. It is no longer in operation. 1975-1981
Royal Alexandra TheatreA theatre house operating out of Toronto, ON, which began operation in 1907. It has since been the centre of many of the largest productions in Canada.1920-1980
Shaw Festival FondsAdministrative and production records of the Shaw Festival in Niagara-on-the-Lake1962-present
Shaw Festival fondsAdministrative and production records of Canada's leading repertory theatre company devoted to the works by and in the spirit of George Bernard Shaw.1962-present
Skylight TheatreFounded in 1979, Skylight Theatre was Toronto's first open-air Theatre. This company has since ceased operation. 1979-1992
Stratford FestvialThis theatre festival specialized in the works of Shakespeare when it was founded in 1953, but quickly branched out to feature other classic works. It is still in operation today. 1953-2014
Tarragon TheatreAdministrative and production records of this major professional theatre company in Toronto, ON.1971-present
Theatre Aquarius fondsAdministrative and production records of this major professional theatre company from Hamilton, ON.1972-present
Theatre CentreFounded as an experimental facility, the Theatre Centre has now become a successful cooperative theatre incubator and live arts hub.1979-1992
Theatre ColumbusFounded in Toronto in 1983, Theatre Columbus used clown technique to present shows on socially relevant issues. It is now known as Common Boots Theatre.1984-1994
Theatre CompactA theatre company that featured key players in the field. It has since ceased operation.1976-1978
Theatre OntarioA professional association that provided its members with a variety of services. It is still in operation today.1986-1991
Theatre Passe MurailleTheatre Passe Muraille is a pioneering alternative theatre based out of Toronto, ON, that encourages the performance to move beyond the four walls. It is still in operation. 1988-present
Theatre PlusA theatre that set out originally to present boundary pushing political and social works. 1973-1993
Theatre Smith-GilmourAn innovative theatre company based in Toronto, ON, that presents original comedy plays in dell'arte style. It is still in operation.1981-1991
Theatre Terra NovaA short live theatre company the performed solely Canadian works. It was founded in 1988 and ceased operations in 1991.1988-1991
Theatre on the MoveA travelling Theatre that performed shows for a younger audience. It is no longer in operation. 1971-1994
Théâtre Français de Toronto Formerly known as Théâtre du P'tit Bonheur, Théâtre Français is the largest Canadian francophone theatre outside of Québec. It was founded in 1967 and is still in operation today.1967-2016
Timothy Findley CollectionPublished and unpublished plays, letters, correspondence, videos, memorabilia, and other materials relating to the career of actor, playwright and writer Timothy Findley (1930-2002). 1910-2001
Toronto Free TheatreAdministrative and production records of this professional theatre company in Toronto, ON, which merged with CentreStage in 1988 to form the Canadian Stage Company.1972-1988
Toronto Workshop ProductionsFounded in 1959, TWP is one of the first well known experimental theatres. It ceased operations in 1989.1959-1989
Guelph Royal Opera HouseThe Guelph Royal Opera House was a theatre that featured live performances before being turned into a movie theatre. It has since ceased operation. 1873-1926
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