Théâtre la Seizième was founded in 1974. At the time the company was created, it was situated on 16th Avenue in Vancouver. The first production for general audiences on the marquee was “Les Belles-Soeurs” by Michel Tremblay, bringing together 15 women on stage. The director and first Artistic Director, Catherine Colvey, was naturally named “la seizième” (the sixteenth person).
Catherine Colvey (1974-1977)
Maurice Meloche (1977-1978
Jean-André Leblanc (1978-1980)
Denis Chouinard (1980-1983)
Nicole-Marie Rhéault (1983 à 1985)
Réjean Poirier (1985-1991)
Roger Gaudet (1991-1993)
Michelle Cook (1993-1997)
Alain Jean (1997-2001)
Craig Holzschuh (2001-2016)
Esther Duquette (2016-today)
From a troupe to a theatre
Originally called “Troupe de la Seizième” until 1995, the company produced, from time to time, plays for general audiences and for children in Vancouver and all of Western Canada. Under the artistic direction of Catherine Colvey, and subsequently Maurice Meloche and Jean-André Leblanc, they performed notably at the Maison de la parole, The Vancouver East Cultural Centre, the York Theatre and the Metro.
Under Denis Choinard, the company achieved fully professional status in 1980. In 1985, Réjean Poirier developed the theatre for young audiences program to meet the increasing demand for French plays for children. Productions for youth audiences were added to the programming in the 90’s.
A place for creation
During Roger Gaudet’s second mandate (1991-1993), la Seizième participated in equipping the new « Studio 16 » of the Maison de la francophonie on 7th Avenue West. That venue would become the main performance space for Théâtre la Seizième.
From 1993 to 1997, Michelle Cook took over the reins of the company. It’s at this time that La Seizième organizes the “Festival Théâtre Jeunesse” on four occasions. In 1998, Alain Jean developed the idea of complete seasons for general audiences, which continues to this day. Every year the company has presented a regular season of multiple productions for Vancouver audiences, including one local production.
Development of the artistic community
In 2001, Craig Holzschuh, the Administrative Director and Assistant Artistic Director for 2 years, becomes the Artistic and General Director of the company. He immediately creates the “Dramaturgical Development Program” to support British-Columbian writers. Through this program, the theatre commissions plays from young artists and supports them during the writing process to eventually produce the play.
Today, this program is now part of a more complete training package, for the support and dramaturgical development of stage artists. Théâtre la Seizième reaffirms its desire to support theatre training in western Canada and the creation of local theatre.
A major creative and production centre
The work produced by Théâtre la Seizième is lauded as much on the local level as on the national stage. Over the past few years, the company has programmed and co-presented international productions such as 887 (2016), Le projet Anderson (2007) and Le Dragon bleu (2009) by Robert Lepage or Séquence 8 by les 7 doigts de la main.
The productions of La vue d’en haut by James Long (2008), Le Périmètre by Frédéric Blanchet (2009) and Statu Quo by Gilles Poulin-Denis (2013), were directed by Craig Holzschuh and toured regionally and nationally. These productions were presented by prestigious theatre companies such as the National Arts Centre, Le Cercle Molière from Winnipeg and the Festival Théâtre Ados de Laval. These numerous projects assert Théâtre la Seizième’s place as major centre for dramaturgy, creation and the presentation of theatre in French Canada.