Hart House Theatre

Hart House Theatre is a 454-seat theatre in Toronto, Ontario located on the campus of the University of Toronto in the Hart House Student Centre. Hart House Theatre has been the University of Toronto Performing Arts Leader Since 1919. The Theatre serves the University and the Toronto Community at large.

Hart House Theatre opened in November 1919. Construction was financed by the Massey Foundation. The Art Deco theatre has been a starting ground for many well-known actors, directors, playwrights, and designers including: Raymond Massey, Dora Mavor Moore, Lloyd Bochner, Lawren Harris, Arthur Lismer, Wayne and Shuster, and Merrill Denison.

The first Artistic Director of Hart House Theatre was Arthur Lismer from 1919 to 1921.[1]


Hart House Theatre is often referred to as the cradle of Canadian Theatre. Opening in November 1919 the Art Deco theatre on the University of Toronto campus quickly became a leader in the Canadian "Little Theatre" movement of the 1920s and 1930s.

After the war, Hart House Theatre, under the direction of Robert Gill, became an extracurricular student theatre and for twenty years turned out a new generation of stage professionals. William Hutt, Don Harron, Kate Reid, David Gardner, Arthur Hiller, William B. Davis, Donald Sutherland, Norman Jewison and Lorne Michaels all got their start treading the boards on the Hart House stage.

By the mid-1960s the theatre joined the world of academia with the creation of the Graduate Centre for Study of Drama. A new generation of students combined dramatic literature with practical theatre experience and learned from and contributed to the vibrant Toronto theatre scene of the 1970s.

Today Hart House Theatre is the focal point for the performing arts at the University of Toronto. With over a thousand students participating each year in its extra-curricular season of drama, dance, music and film, Hart House Theatre continues to influence each new generation.


  1. Grigor, Angela N. (2002). Arthur Lismer, Visionary Art Educator, p. 52.

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