Mandate & History
Touchstone Theatre develops and presents professional theatrical productions. We explore the contemporary Canadian play through content and form. We stimulate public interest in Canadian cultural perspectives.
For over 37 years Touchstone Theatre has been a mainstay of theatrical innovation and excellence on the West Coast. The company's all-Canadian mandate has helped launch and develop some of the country's most important playwrights and actors, and its substantial body of work has garnered over 70 local and national awards.
Most of Touchstone's activities have fallen into one of the following three categories: premiere productions of plays by local playwrights, second productions of important plays premiered in other regions of Canada, and innovative collective creations developed within the company. Within each category Touchstone has explored a wide variety of styles and always stayed true to the exploratory and celebratory spirit of the company. Former Artistic Directors have included Gordon McCall, John Cooper and Roy Surette.
At the start of the 1997/1998 season, Katrina Dunn succeeded Roy Surette as Artistic Director, infusing Touchstone's mandate with her unique vision. Since then, the level of activity at the company has increased and several new programs have been implemented. A Playwright in Residence program has stepped up the company's commitment to developing new work and given rise to plays such as Kevin Kerr's Governor General's Award-Winning Unity (1918). In 2003 she made Touchstone a co-founder, with Norman Armour and Rumble Productions, of the PuSh International Performing Arts Festival, which has gone on to become one of the city's most important cultural events. With Martin Kinch at the Playwrights Theatre Centre she birthed the Flying Start program which gives a stage to new professional playwrights. In 2011, with Rachel Ditor at the Arts Club, she launched the In Tune Conference, which supports new Canadian musicals on a biennial schedule. Since 2008 the company's themed seasons have explored major trends in Canadian Theatre. These have included seasons focussed on Canadian Women Playwrights, Canadian Musical Theatre and BC Theatre Artists.
Now in its fourth decade of production Touchstone remains a lightning rod of theatrical activity. Its purely Canadian focus makes it unique in its region, and its reputation for excellence has earned the respect of audience, critics and colleagues.
Touchstone is a member of the following organisations: