A Brief History

1981 - 1990

Colin Jackson returns to Manitoba Theatre Workshop as Executive Producer and serves for 11 years leading PTE in its artistic growth, community engagement and, in 1989, its very successful move to its new home in Portage Place.

The name changed to Prairie Theatre Exchange to reflect the increased focus on professional productions and the establishment of a regular theatre season, under the Artistic Direction of Gordon McCall. Adult programming was added while retaining children’s programming, drama classes and outreach programs.
1981 on
As the theatre grew and evolved, so did the theatre school. To accommodate adult students as well as teens and children, evening and weekend classes were offered which aimed to allow students to develop and encourage creative self-expression, to be members of a collaborative team and to be clear and confident storytellers and communicators. At its peak, over 600 students (children, teens and adults) were attending weekly classes in all aspects of theatre, puppetry and story telling.     

Kim McCaw joins PTE as the new Artistic Director and Prairie Theatre Exchange introduced subscriptions for its three-play adult season. 200 subscriptions sold.

The PTE Theatre School was chosen by Winnipeg School Division as a partner to deliver in-class workshops using drama as a teaching method within the curriculum and PD workshops for teachers.

Subscriptions top 3500.

Prairie Theatre Exchange outgrows its facilities. Announces that it will build a new home in the heart of downtown in Portage Place. Artistic Director Kim McCaw and Lifetime Board Member Charles Huband were also instrumental in the success of the move to Portage Place.

1989 March
Construction begins on the Portage Place site.

1989 October 12
The first public performance in the new Portage Place site takes place – The Village of Idiots by John Lazarus, directed by Kim McCaw. Subscriptions exceed 6,000. PTE re-dedicates itself to becoming the finest possible theatre by and for the Prairie region.

PTE was one of the founding arts organizations for the Quantum Program, established by Winnipeg School Division. This allowed students in grades 5-8, drawn from all over the division, who showed artistic interest or talent, to attend classes for two afternoons per week during school hours for eight weeks, culminating in a showcase event. With he Royal Winnipeg Ballet School and the Winnipeg Art Gallery, PTE remained a partner in the program until the global pandemic forced its cancellation in 2020.

In 1989, PTE was approved as a Teaching College for the University of Manitoba. This meant the School could offer lab type credit courses taught by theatre professionals at PTE to U of M classes.

Our Mandate, Vision & Values

Theatre is essential to the health and growth of communities, offering insight into the human spirit. Theatre informs, educates, entertains, challenges, shocks, questions, and illuminates. Prairie Theatre Exchange (PTE) was born with these ideals in 1972, and has become a centre of excellence for contemporary theatre and drama education.

While nationally recognized, PTE is deeply rooted in community and has touched the lives of hundreds of thousands of people in Winnipeg and throughout Manitoba. Manitobans trust PTE to ensure that full voice is given to the finest artistic talent our region and our country have to offer.

Our Mandate
• To produce and present professional live and digital productions
• To be a centre for new play development and production in the Prairies
• To be a centre for artistic professional development
• To share our productions with a local, provincial, national and international audience
• To be a home and resource to artists, supporting experimentation, and opportunity
• To embrace and integrate principles of equity, diversity, inclusion, decolonization,
anti-racism, anti-oppression, accessibility, and social justice into operations
both artistic and administrative

Our Vision
The vision for Prairie Theatre Exchange is to be vital, relevant, and responsive. We strive to be a centre for innovation in theatre and performance practice: a home for interdisciplinary and diverse works. We are a home for artists from the Prairies (Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta) and beyond. We prioritize professional development for artists in the Prairies. We are a contemporary professional theatre company which reflects the ever-evolving communities and audiences we serve with artistry, confidence and heart.

    Our Values

    The plays we produce and the work we do are expressions of our priorities. The way we create and present these plays exemplifies the ethics, philosophy and guiding principles of the company.

    It is essential that our theatre be:
    • Safe
    • Accountable
    • Equitable
    • Accessible
    • Respectful
    • Truthful
    • Inspired
    • Provocative
    • Artistically rich
    • Generous
    • Responsible
    • Inter-cultural
    • Inter-sectional
    • Inter-disciplinary