Our Impact Why We Exist
At Tarragon, we believe that a playwright should be given time, space and mentorship to write.
Our mandate is to create, develop and produce new plays, providing the ideal conditions for new work to thrive. We are always on the lookout for new Canadian voices and new work.
With the support of many private and public funders, Tarragon consistently produces theatre of the highest caliber while remaining committed to contributing to the development of Canadian plays and playwrights. In the 45 years since the Tarragon was established, over 500 new Canadian plays have been developed, with 185 of those plays produced on our stages. Of those, 33 have been nominated for, and 11 have been awarded the Governor General’s Award for English-language Drama.
Our Story What We Do
In 1970, Bill and Jane Glassco founded Tarragon Theatre to support the creation and production of homegrown Canadian theatre. Bill was Artistic Director from 1971 to 1982, during which time he developed the work of some of Canada’s first playwrights, notably David French, David Freeman and James Reaney, alongside English premieres of Michel Tremblay’s groundbreaking work. In 1982, Urjo Kareda became Artistic Director and remained in that role until his death in December 2001. He founded the well-known Playwrights Unit, the first in Canada, and fostered the work of Morwyn Brebner, Diane Flacks, Richard Greenblatt, Don Hannah, Michael Healey, Wendy Lill, Joan MacLeod, Morris Panych, Judith Thompson and Kristen Thomson. Current Artistic Director Richard Rose was appointed in 2002. He has sustained our comprehensive play development programs – adding to them Workspace – maintained past creative relationships, and developed new ones with André Alexis, Kate Cayley, Sean Dixon, Brendan Gall, Ravi Jain, Melody Johnson, Andrew Kushnir, Rosa Laborde, Daniel MacIvor, Maria Milisavljevic, Hannah Moscovitch, Erin Shields, Jason Sherman, David Yee, David Young and d’bi.young.
Tarragon Theatre is located at 30 Bridgman Avenue in in central Toronto, where it houses two theatres, three rehearsal halls, a newly renovated lobby, production shops, and administrative and artistic offices. Tarragon produces 8 plays each season to a total annual audience of 45,000 and has an annual operating budget of 2.5 million.
Our Programs How We Do It
Each year Tarragon produces a full season of professional productions. To compliment, enhance, and sustain this work, Tarragon has developed innovative programs in the following areas: Youth, Emerging Artists & New Play Development, and Audience Engagement.
Programs for Youth: We are committed to creating experiences for young, aspiring theatre-makers and theatre-goers. What and how we create with young people directly reflects the work at the heart of our theatre: reading, seeing, revising, talking, workshopping and a commitment to the process of generating new work. Our innovative and inclusive programs for youth include:
- The Young Playwrights Unit - a FREE training experience for young people who are curious and passionate about play-making. We take a page from our professional play development programs to offer a group of dedicated young creators a rigorous context in which to develop some of their first works.
- The Young Directors Unit - working in collaboration with the Sears Ontario Drama Festival, students bring their plays-in-progress to Tarragon for feedback and input.
- Student Matinees - with deeply discounted tickets, informative tours, post-show chats, specially designed workshops, and professionally developed educational materials, Tarragon goes the extra mile to assist teachers to make clear curriculum connections while exposing young people to a high quality theatre experience.
- The Scarborough Project - with the assistance of a Tarragon playwright and support from the Scarborough Arts Council, students from the University of Toronto’s Scarborough campus and from two Scarborough secondary schools stage an adaptation of the play in an outdoor lakeside location. This performance is open to the public and aims at building partnerships with the Scarborough community, local schools and university partners.
“Exposure to arts education for young people can build capacity for imaginative and critical thinking along with open-mindedness, which are all important skills for living productive lives as adults.” Toronto Vital Signs Report
Emerging Artists & New Play Development: Tarragon Theatre offers a host of play development programs to support playwrights, theatre creators and their plays.
- The Playwrights Unit is a year-long intensive program, offering a selected group of 5 - 10 emerging playwrights the chance to work in a supportive environment. The playwrights work directly with the Literary Manager, Artistic Director and Assistant Artistic Director, who offer guidance and dramaturgical support during the four 6-day work sessions scheduled in September, December, February and May. Professional actors are engaged to read the first draft of each play for the group and, in May, the playwrights present their play as a staged reading in front of a large and dedicated audience during our annual spring Play Reading Week. From there, participants often graduate to further stages of Tarragon's play-development process. Past members of the Playwrights Unit include Kate Cayley, Anna Chatterton, Susan Coyne, Brendan Gall, Andrew Kushnir, Michael Healey, Ravi Jain, Rosa Laborde, Hannah Moscovitch, Erin Shields, David Yee and d'bi young.
- The Play Reading Week is an exciting celebration of plays-in-development by the talented playwrights associated with the theatre, including current members of the prestigious Tarragon Playwrights Unit: David S Craig, Jenna Harris, Philip McKee, Step Taylor, and Donald Woo.The plays are read by professional actors, and are directed by Tarragon Theatre’s Artistic Director Richard Rose, and Assistant Artistic Director Andrea Donaldson.The Play Reading Week offers audiences a sneak peek of these fine playwrights’ newest creations, while supplying essential feedback to the playwrights. Eight full length plays are read over the two week period in Tarragon’s Workspace Studio. The performances are open to the public and admission is free.
- Urjo Kareda Residency Grant for an Emeging Theatre Artist supports the training and artistic residency of an exceptional emerging theatre artist each season at Tarragon.The resident spends twenty weeks at Tarragon pursuing their own training and artistic goals by working in collaboration with professional artists in their chosen field of interest and Tarragon’s artistic staff.
- The Workspace is a newly created centre for experimentation, exploration, and play development for independent artists, collectives, and theatre companies. Tarragon provides, at no cost, a modestly-equipped studio space and front-of-house support for creation, development and performance.
- Playwrights-in-Residence benefit from consistent year-long support from the theatre for their writing through dramaturgy, workshops and public performances.
Audience Engagement: Tarragon offers a wide selection of audience engagement activities, including lectures for our subscribers, member/donor recognition events with artists, and talkbacks, all of which are incredibly successful and well attended, including:
- A full week of post-show talkback conversations during the second week of a production.
- A popular lecture series in which experts are engaged to contextualize each of the plays in the season. Lectures are recorded and made available through our website.
- Audit the Season, a series of curated conversations and activities in which artists, staff and audiences connect to learn about the season and the processes of theatre production and playwriting.
What You Can Do
We invite you to direct your gift to Tarragon Theatre through three different funds: the Playwright Fund, the Youth, Education & Outreach Fund and the Annual Fund.
Playwright Fund: Supporting the Playwright Fund impacts playwrights, theatre creators and their plays through a host of innovative play development programs including Playwrights-in-Residence, Playwrights Unit and Play Reading Week.
Youth, Education & Outreach Fund: Tarragon’s contribution to our community goes far beyond the work on our stages. From highly subsidized student and community tickets, to talkbacks, lectures, and workshops, we are committed to making theatre accessible and engaging for patrons of all ages and backgrounds. Our Education Director and Artistic leadership continue to look for new ways to engage the youth in our community.
Annual Fund: The Annual Fund is the most important fund to the organization. Funds are directed to the entire operations of the theatre, supporting all of our outstanding professional theatrical productions with acclaimed performers, designers, craftspeople and directors. With an annual operating budget of 2.5 million, we rely on individual and corporate donors in maintain our standard of artistic excellence.