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Fonds Level Description

Accession Number: 89-1008


Hart House Theatre fonds. -- 1919-1935. -- 1 folder.

Biography / History

Hart House was opened in 1919 at the University of Toronto, Ontario. It was a gift to the University by the Massey Foundation. Built by two Canadian architects, Sproatt and Rolph, it had a dining-hall for undergraduates, a faculty club, club rooms for graduate members, a music room, a chapel, a library, a room for debates, a completely equipped little theatre, a sketch room and various offices plus a running track, rooms for boxing, fencing and wrestling, a swimming pool, a billiard room, photographic dark rooms, a rifle range, common-rooms and guest rooms. Hart House was essentially a club for men. (Taken from: Wallace, W. Stewart. "A History of the University of Toronto." Toronto: The University of Toronto Press, 1927.) The Theatre in Hart House was in the basement. Vincent Massey and his wife saw the area before a theatre was built and made the suggestion. The theatre was fully equipped with 500 seats, a green room, a dressing room and property and costume rooms. In 1919 the Theatre presented five plays, four matinees lyriques and a number of lectures on the productions of the Hart House Theatre and, in general, the art of the little theatre. At first the Theatre was operated outside of the University Community. Undergraduates were not in the productions unless they were extremely proficient in their skills. Instead the University relied on more experienced men and women. Students were able to buy tickets at special rates to see the productions. Not only were plays put on in the theatre but it was also used for special lectures, musicals by the music club and productions by other colleges. There were a number of different directors throughout the years who were sympathetic to the students and involved the undergraduates as much as possible in the mechanics of the productions. During the 1920's and 1930's the Hart House Theatre was the leader in Canadian little theatre. In 1930 Hart House Theatre was expanded. The ground beneath the second storey was excavated to provide room for a rehearsal hall, additional rooms and a storage room for the 3 000 costumes that belonged to the theatre. Starting in the 1930's and into the years of World War II the Theatre became used by students and their own productions than it had been previously. A number of well-known Canadian personalities, such as Johnny Wayne, Frank Shuster and Andrew Allan received their start at the Theatre. (Taken from: Montagnes, Ian. "The Story of Hart House." Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1969.)

Custodial History


Scope and Content

This fonds consists of a series of programmes from dramatic productions performed at Hart House Theatre, University of Toronto, between 1919 and 1935. Some of the programmes are autographed by the players.


Title based on contents of fonds.

This fonds was donated by an unknown source.

Some of the records are in French.

Restrictions: N