For over 43 years, Geordie Theatre has been bringing live theatre to youth across Canada. 

Founded as Geordie Productions in 1980 by Elsa Bolam, and named after the “Geordie” region of England, where Bolam was born and raised, Geordie Theatre was established to fill a vital role in English Theatre for Young Audiences in Quebec, serving youth and providing work to Quebec’s Anglophone artists. For over four decades, Geordie Theatre has established itself as a national and provincial leader in TYA, creating and performing essential and quality works that speak to and about the lived experiences of Canada’s youth. 

In 1981, Geordie’s landmark tour launched for the very first time with A Midsummer Night’s Dream, bringing theatre to classrooms across Quebec over the course of 19 performances.  Today, Geordie tours two plays annually for Elementary and High School/Cegep across Eastern Canada, often serving as the primary arts engagement in rural communities. A mainstay in the annual programming of countless schools, the 2Play tour visits all 17 regions of Quebec, Ontario, and the Maritime provinces on its annual route, engaging and entertaining over 34,000 students every year.

Geordie’s Mainstage series began in 1999, with From You to Us to You, a collective creation intiative that Geordie Theatre continues to this day. From You to Us to You aims to give youth the opportunity to play a direct role in the play creation process and see their ideas come to life upon the stage. Taking inspiration from the thoughts and ideas of students from collaborating schools, artists use these building blocks to develop each From You to Us to You play.

In 2006, after 25 years as Geordie’s Artistic Director, Elsa Bolam stepped down, handing leadership over to Dean Patrick Fleming. Throughout her long tenure, Bolam was the recipient of numerous awards and distinctions for her contributions to the Canadian and Quebec theatre landscapes, and her commitment Theatre for Young Audiences, including Membership in the Order of Canada, a Commemorative Medal for the Golden Jubilee of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, and the MECCA (Montreal Theatre Critics’ Awards) Award of Distinction for her ‘outstanding contribution to the cultural landscape’ of Montreal.

Under Dean Patrick Fleming’s artistic vision, Geordie Theatre turned its sights to artistic development and innovation, both in the commissioning of new works, and in the nurturing and training new talent. In 2008, Geordie’s hit adaptation of The Jungle Book, written by Tracey Power and directed by Fleming himself, garnered two MECCA nominations (Sound Design by Kristie Ibrahim and Set Design by Amy Keith) and one win (Costume Design by Susana Vera). Oliver Koomsatira won the Quebec Drama Federation’s Elsa Bolam Emerging Artist Award in 2008 for his portrayal of Mowgli. For his contributions to theatre during his 10-year tenure, Fleming received great recognition, including an award for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal. 

In 2010, Fleming established Geordie Theatre School. A place for young and aspiring actors to hone their craft and build their confidence under the guidance of industry professionals, Geordie Theatre School has continued to grow over the past 14 years, with public classes, March Break and Summer Camps, after-school and lunchtime classes, and specialised workshops available for youth ages 6-18.

Kathryn Westoll was brought onto the Geordie Theatre team in 2014 as General Manager. In 2016, Westoll became Geordie’s Managing Director, and finally the Executive Director as of 2021. Over the decade since her first appointment, Westoll has been at the heart of Geordie operations, improving administrative functions and championing TYA’s role in the Canadian theatre landscape as a Board and Committee member across the METAC, Quebec Drama Federation, IPAY, and PACT.

In 2016, Mike Payette took on the role as Geordie’s third Artistic Director, renewing Geordie’s focus on Equity, Diversity, Inclusivity, Reconciliation, and Accessibility by putting diverse stories and storytellers centre stage in Geordie’s 2Play Tour and Mainstage Series. This diversity was also reflected backstage in each show’s creative teams, hiring BIPOC, gender-diverse, and neurodiverse artists to create the worlds within these stories. Geordie’s season programming received great acclaim over the course of Payette’s time as Artistic Director, amassing a total of 35 META nominations and 10 wins, including a win for Payette’s own direction of Around the World in 80 Days

2017 marked the launch of Geordie Theatre Fest, which gave families in Montreal the opportunity to catch Geordie’s 2Play shows on-stage for one week only. Up until then, the touring shows had been exclusively reserved for school audiences. In addition to performances from Geordie’s touring shows, Geordie Theatre Fest aimed to let young audiences play a more direct role in the play development process. Through a partnership with the National Theatre School and past-Geordie Artistic Director Dean Patrick Fleming, students from NTS’s playwriting program are given the opportunity to write and present a TYA piece as a staged reading to students from local Montreal schools. Featuring performances and direction by industry professionals, these staged Geordie Theatre Fest readings give young playwrights the opportunity to hear and see their in-development work presented live, and allows them to get input on the piece directly from their target audience: youth. 

When the Covid-19 pandemic suspended in-person gatherings in 2020, Geordie Theatre was quick to adapt, launching a digital 2Play tour that enabled schools to livestream a play to students over Zoom. Each livestream was performed live in Geordie’s rehearsal space and still allowed for a talkback opportunity after each show, giving students a full 2Play experience from the comfort and safety of their homes. As the world slowly returned to in-person activities, Geordie maintained many of its virtual options, establishing a hybrid model for administrative operations and theatrical programming, offering digital access for season plays.

In 2021, Jimmy Blais was appointed as Geordie’s fourth Artistic Director. The first Indigenous Artistic Director of a non-culturally mandated theatre company in Quebec, Blais has since revitalized Geordie’s relationship with Indigenous communities across Quebec, specifically in Northern Quebec, through the Indigenous Artistic Growth Program. With the support of an Indigenous Artistic Associate, Geordie has commissioned new Indigenous theatre pieces, emphasizing youth involvement.

Under Blais’s artistic vision, Geordie continues to flourish and expand its offerings and operations. 2022 marked the first annual Family Fair, a free one-day-only outdoor event engaging families and local businesses through art, educational activities, and games. Workplace Workshops were also launched, offering skill-building and personal development workshops to businesses and professionals using theatre games and techniques. In 2023, Geordie Theatre moved its operations to a multifunctional space in St-Henri, consolidating its administrative offices, theatre school, storage, and the PlayLab, Geordie’s rentable rehearsal space for artists. 

A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1981-1982)

The Jungle Book (2008)

Head à tête (2013)

The Halloween Tree (2016)

Around the World in 80 Days (2017-2018)

Celestial Bodies (2020-2021)

Other Worlds (2023)

As Geordie approaches its 45th anniversary, we remain as committed as ever to providing quality entertainment, community engagement, and educational tools for audiences young and old. As Montreal’s leading English-language professional theatre for audiences of all ages, Geordie takes great pride in its continued dedication to accessibility and inclusivity, making great strides to expand our reach and impact provincially, nationally, and internationally.