Green Thumb Theatre was founded in 1975 to develop original Canadian plays for young audiences. Since that time, Green Thumb has emerged as one of Canada's leading theatre companies for young people, producing excellent material for audiences and artists, and contributing to the growing body of work evolving in this field. Green Thumb demonstrates a new excitement and potential for children's theatre.
After 40 years, Green Thumb Theatre is still at the forefront of the Theatre in Education movement, using the emotional impact of live performance to educate and empower young people. We challenge our audience to re-examine their beliefs and prejudices and to define their feelings and aspirations.
Green Thumb believes that young Canadians face the same scope of issues, problems, concerns and interests that adults do; however, many young people are disempowered from effectively confronting difficult or complex situations, a result of societal, systemic or cultural beliefs and discriminations. As Canadian society diversifies it is more important than ever that people respect each other and each other's differences.
DID YOU KNOW?
In 1975 the Green Thumb Players Society was founded by a group of graduates from the University of British Columbia's drama department, which included Gord McCall, John Carroll, Dennis Foon and Jane Howard Baker. The company's original mandate was to produce plays for the local community with a focus on entertaining children, with its first season featuring humourous, adventurous tales such as Hokum the Giant Spider, The Great Xmas Kidnapping and The Richmond Ditchmonster.
With Dennis Foon acting as the first Artistic Director, the first few seasons saw an expansion of the repertoire to include legends such as Heracles and The Windigo, and folk stories such as Tales from Tolstoy and Shadowdance. The company successfully established itself in the local school market and quickly changed its legal mandate to include performances "throughout British Columbia and around the world".
In 1979 Green Thumb made a major artistic breakthrough by producing , a play about a 10-year-old girl, her divorced mother and the mother's boyfriend, who would soon be moving in with them. This was the first time that a topic such as divorce had been presented in a school setting. Some educators were outraged; others were thrilled. By today's standards, Hilary's Birthday is a somewhat tame play, but in 1979 it set the course for Green Thumb as a cutting-edge theatre company.
The following season, 1980/81, saw the creation of Green Thumb's "signature piece" by Dennis Foon, based on a concept by Jane Howard Baker. The play follows the experience of a new immigrant to Canada and his efforts to fit into a new culture with a new language. The play utilized the clever theatrical device of having the Canadian characters speaking a type of gibberish (using familiar word roots) to highlight the frustration of not being able to understand or to be understood. New Canadian Kid has been hailed as a quintessential play for young audiences and has been listed by theatre academics as the most produced Canadian play of all time!
Throughout the 1980's, Green Thumb continued its strong commitment to text-based "issue plays". Dennis Foon wrote many of the scripts himself, but also commissioned work from several playwrights including John Lazarus, Colin Thomas and David Holman. The company expanded its original market to include secondary school audiences, giving writers more freedom in terms of language and subject matter. A string of successes emerged from this period, including Foon's (about racism in high schools), (children of alcoholic parents), and (the cycle of parental abuse), Colin Thomas' (effect of war on children), and John Lazarus' Schoolyard Games (schoolyard conflicts), Not So Dumb (learning disabilities), and (children's fears). Perhaps the best-known initiative of the company was the creation of a street-proofing program against sexual abuse entitled Feeling Yes, Feeling No, which was packaged into a participatory instructional kit and made into a film, both of which are still in demand by educators, counselors and community action groups.
In 1987 Patrick McDonald became the new Artistic Director, replacing Dennis Foon who had moved on to become a freelance writer. Patrick brought a great deal of experience developing original Canadian plays to Green Thumb, having been Artistic Director of Great Canadian Theatre Company in Ottawa. Since joining the company Patrick has commissioned scripts from high-profile writers such as Morris Panych, Joan MacLeod and George F. Walker, while veterans such as John Lazarus and Dennis Foon continue to provide the company with new and exciting work. Patrick continued the emphasis on addressing issues, while infusing the exploration of new styles and production techniques to refresh the company's mandate. Highlights of his tenure have included Ian Tamblyn's (a futuristic look at environmental abuse), by Joan MacLeod (a poetic examination of eating disorders) and Jamie Norris' (using hockey as a metaphor for children's inter-relationships). Most notable has been (AIDS awareness) by Morris Panych, which toured for five seasons across Canada and internationally.
In 1988 Green Thumb Theatre began to supplement its touring activities by mounting its first mainstage production at the Vancouver East Cultural Centre - a full scale production of . This was followed over two successive seasons of mainstage shows targeted at family audiences. Then the company changed the focus of this programming to attract an under-served portion of the public - teenagers and young adults aged 15-24. The first effort in this direction was by Morris Panych, followed by the world premiere of George F. Walker's and a re-write of his earlier play . Green Thumb began to collaborate with other companies to help build momentum for this type of series, including a co-production of Betty Quan's Fault Lines with the Gateway Theatre in Richmond BC and a co-presentation of Les Deux Mondes' Tale of Teeka with the Vancouver East Cultural Centre.
Other innovative collaborations over the years have included a tour exchange program with the California Theatre Center in Sunnyvale CA with their production of Most Valuable Player and Green Thumb's production of Night Light, the co-commission of Little Sister with Theatre Direct Canada, hosting Young People's Theatre of Toronto's production of Naomi's Road on tour in BC schools, and producing George F. Walker's Problem Child in repertory with Victoria's Belfry Theatre production of Featuring Loretta and the Vancouver Playhouse's Adult Entertainment.
One of the legacies of Green Thumb Theatre's extensive script development has been a library of original Canadian works which are now produced throughout Canada and around the world. The company operates a playwrights' agency, representing five writers for young audiences, assisting professional, community and school groups with their programming. As they prepare to enter the next century, Green Thumb continues their commitment and mandate to create and produce entertaining, thought-provoking theatre for young audiences.
We have created original productions subsequently staged by over 200 theatre companies
worldwide and translated into Chinese, French, Spanish, German, Danish, Hebrew and Japanese.
We regularly tour across
Canada and the United States,
and we tour abroad with
Each year we tour every school district in British Columbia, performing to more than
In our 39 seasons of touring & mainstage shows, we have performed over 15,000 times to 4,000,000 people in every province and 2 territories in Canada,
36 states in the U.S., Ireland, England, Scotland, the Netherlands, Germany, Sweden, Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, and Mexico.
This is a mockup. Publish to view how it will appear live.