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Theatre History

Juvenile Drama Collection

This collection, originally gathered together by Desmond Seaton Reid, comprises more than six thousand sheets of engravings and lithographs illustrating the characters and scenery from British and some European plays between 1810 and 1940. The sheets are particularly valuable for the information they provide about costumes, sets and favourite actors and actresses of the popular theatre of the nineteenth century. Among the British publishers represented are Green, Park, Pollock, Redington, Skelt, Webb and West.

There are also two model toy theatres with accompanying sets and characters.

Dora Mavor Moore Collection

This collection constitutes the personal papers of Dora Mavor Moore (1888-1979), the noted Canadian actress, producer, director and teacher.

Included are professional and personal correspondence, scripts, photographs and threatre programmes, excluding her years at the New Play Society [see below]. The professional papers concern her early acting, teaching and directing career from about 1914 up to and including World War II, when she directed the Village Players, the theatre group which preceded the New Play Society. Among the personal papers is information about members of the Mavor family both in Scotland and in Canada.

New Play Society

The New Play Society was formed in August 1946 by Mrs. Dora Mavor Moore as an extension of her amateur theatre group, the Village Players (1938-1946). It was formed primarily "to establish a living theatre in Canada on a professional but non-profit basis" and gave theatrical leadership in Toronto and across Canada for over twenty years. Among its many accomplishments, the Society assisted in the formation of the Stratford Shakespearian Festival. Mrs. Moore's personal friendship with Sir Tyrone Guthrie was instrumental in bringing him to Canada. The Society also provided Stratford with Toronto office space, audition accommodation and space to make costumes. In addition, about sixty percent of the first cast had an association with the New Play Society.

Later the New Play Society became identified with the brilliant annual satirical review Spring Thaw introduced in 1948. The commercial success of this production allowed other projects of the Society, such as the Theatre School, to continue for some time.

This collection of business and performance records from one of the first local professional theatre companies in Canada provides a valuable resource for the study of the development of theatre in this country. The production photographs are particularly useful.

Theatre Programmes

This is an extensive collections of Canadian, American and European programmes dating from the late nineteenth century to the present. It is especially strong in programmes for theatres in Paris, Brussels and other French and Belgian towns from 1880-1940.

Among the programmes from Paris is a small group from the Folies Bergères dating from the turn of the twentieth century to the 1930s.

Canadian programmes are well-represented by long runs of examples from Massey Hall and the Royal Alexandra Theatre. There is also material dating from the beginning of the Stratford Shakespearian Festival to the present, arranged in a separate collection.


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