A Brief Chronology

Over 4 decades of accomplishments and art-making.
  • 1960-1972
    Manitoba Theatre School is founded and run by the Manitoba Theatre Centre.

    Manitoba Theatre School is closed and the Manitoba Theatre Workshop is founded by concerned students, teachers and community members, spearheaded by Co-Founders Colin Jackson and Charles Huband.

    November 24, 1972 Manitoba Theatre Workshop is incorporated. 

    Colin Jackson was appointed Director of Manitoba Theatre Workshop, a position he held until 1976.  Following Colin’s departure, Deborah Baer Quinn was appointed Artistic Director of MTW.  Charles Huband was the first President of the Board of Directors.      

    Manitoba Theatre Workshop officially opens its doors in the old Grain Exchange Building, at 160 Princess Street, renovated with financial support from individuals, businesses and government including an Opportunities for Youth grant. This government grant enabled the employment of a number of young people assisted by many volunteers. The objectives of Manitoba Theatre Workshop expands on those of the Manitoba Theatre School to include people of all ages and levels of sophistication.
    1973 - 1981
    Manitoba Theatre Workshop supports and develops creative expression in the community though its school, its outreach program and its theatre. It helps and encourages local playwrights and performers, and moves continuously towards becoming a theatre resource centre.
  • 1981
    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
    Prairie Theatre Exchange furthers its objectives in all areas and grows at a remarkable pace. With growth in all areas, need for expansion and re-housing emerges.
    Kim McCaw joins PTE as the new Artistic Director and Prairie Theatre Exchange introduced subscriptions for its three-play adult season. 200 subscriptions sold.

    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.

  • 1991
    Michael Springate takes over the helm as Artistic Director.

    Allen MacInnis replaces Michael Springate.

    2001 August
    Prairie Theatre Exchange performs overseas for the first time, after receiving an invitation to bring fareWel, the award-winning play by local First Nations playwright Ian Ross, to the prestigious Edinburgh Fringe Festival. The all-aboriginal cast was received warmly by the largest theatre festival in the world.

  • 2004 May
    The inaugural Carol Shields Festival of New Works is launched, featuring staged readings of 21 new plays by 19 Canadian playwrights, most of whom are local.

    2007 March
    The Playwrights Unit is established with seven local playwrights, both experienced and emerging, who will use PTE as a base and resource while they work on current projects. As of the 2017-18 season, the current roster of new and established playwrights is comprised of Joseph AragonSharon BajerRick ChafeGinny CollinsTricia CooperJames DurhamDebbie PattersonEllen PetersonMarc Prescott and Ian Ross.  As of March, 2018, PTE has given professional productions to seven new plays that were developed within the Playwrights’ Unit (Sharon Bajer, Burnin’ Love – March, 2011; Rick Chafe, The Secret Mask – November, 2011; Ellen Peterson, The Brink, October 2012; Tricia Cooper, Social Studies, November 2013; Rick Chafe, Marriage: A Demolition in Two Acts, March 2016; Ginny Collins, The Flats, January 2017; Joseph Aragon, How the Heavens Go, March 2018). Other new scripts developed by the members of the Playwrights Unit during the past few years have been produced across the country, including a number of Short Shots – ten minute plays specially commissioned by PTE for the Carol Shields Festival.

    2007 November
    On November 8, 2007, PTE marks its 35th year by recognizing the extraordinary contributions of The Honourable Charles R. Huband with a special fundraising dinner, establishing the Charles R. Huband Legacy Fund in the Prairie Theatre Exchange Foundation Trust. Mr. Huband, a Life Member of the PTE Board of Directors, was one of the driving forces in the creation of PTE.

    2008 January
    Winnipeg playwright Bruce McManus premieres his sixth new play for PTE, All Restaurant Fires are Arson, which is the 132nd new play since PTE’s inception.

    2011 January
    On January 13, 2011 PTE launches its two-phase Capital Campaign with a goal of $2.2 million.   On November 8, 2012  PTE announces that it has reached its Capital Campaign goal of $2.5 million.  With the completion of Phase 1 of the capital project in the summer of 2011, PTE is able to renovate the lobby, construct  a new lounge and upgrade washrooms.  The main theatre also receives new carpeting, reupholstered seats and fresh paint. The second phase, over the summer of 2012, sees the completion of a new Board Room, updated offices, the completion of a new film studio in the “Annex” portion of the facility, complete with editing suite, and a new space for the Playwrights Unit that includes a library of Canadian plays, workstations and meeting area.

  • April 2012
    At the conclusion of the 2011/12 season, PTE's total number of productions stands at 310 over its history.  (139 of these were new plays.)

    2012 September
    The official name of the education program at PTE is changed to PTE Theatre and Film School, to reflect an increasing roster of film and TV acting classes.

    2012 October
    PTE opens its 40th anniversary season with The Brink, by Ellen Peterson of the PTE Playwrights Unit -- the 140th world premiere in the company’s history.

    2012, October 29
    Robert Metcalfe is presented with the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal by the Honourable Joyce Bateman, M.P. for Winnipeg South Centre in recognition of “his outreach to the community with made-in-Manitoba plays and his valuable contributions to Winnipeg’s theatre and performing arts community, particularly as Artistic Director of PTE.”

    2013 May
    The 10th annual Carol Shields Festival of New Works continues to bring together not only theatre companies, but dance companies, filmmakers, visual artists, musicians and singer-songwriters every year to celebrate the act of creating new work.

    2013 November
    Robert Metcalfe is honoured with the Bra D'Or (Golden Bra) award, given annually by the Playwrights Guild of Canada’s Women’s Caucus. “Robert Metcalfe is being recognized for his support of female playwrights.  He has produced 15 plays by women playwrights in the last 6 years – not because they were written by women, but because he saw them as good plays that should be brought to audiences,” says Robin Sokoloski, Executive Director of Playwrights Guild of Canada.

    2016 - January
    General Manager Cherry Karpyshin retires after 50 years in theatre, 34 at Prairie Theatre Exchange and 23 as the General Manager. Tracey Loewen takes on the role of General Manager, after 11 years on staff as PTE's Accountant.

    2017 - January
    PTE partnered with Théâtre Cercle Molière to present The Flats, commissioned by the two theatres from Ginny Collins, a member of the PTE Playwrights Unit. With a bilingual cast, directed by Bob Metcalfe, The Flats ran in English at PTE from January 25 - February 12, 2017, and then in French at Théâtre Cercle Molière from March 2-18.

    2017 - October
    Robert Metcalfe announces that, after 15 seasons as Artistic Director, he will be stepping down at the end of the 2017-18 season.

    2018 - February
    Thomas Morgan Jones is announced as the new Artistic Director, beginning in July 2018

    2018 - April & May
    Thanks to additional funding from the Canada Council, PTE adds two "Bonus Series" shows, performed on the second stage, the Colin Jackson Studio Theatre. For the 2018-19 season, programming will include a full series of second stage programming, called Leap Series.