History

Situated among the cobblestone streets of historic Old Montreal and residing in Canada’s first stock exchange building, Centaur Theatre is at the centre of Montreal’s arts community.

Founded in 1969 by Artistic & Executive Director Maurice Podbrey,the company’s formative years were devoted to producing contemporary and classical plays from the English international canon.It was the world premiere in 1979 of Montreal playwright David Fennario’s Balconville,that put Centaur Theatre on the map as the only English Canadian theatre reflecting Quebec’s unique cultural landscape.The play was a critical and box office success at home and abroad when it toured internationally. Centaur’s global reputation continued to develop as Podbrey produced works with celebrated international directors and playwrights that included such ground-breaking luminaries as South Africa’s Athol Fugard.

Podbrey remained at the helm until 1998, when Gordon McCall assumed the artistic and executive directorship. Under McCall,Centaur produced the English-language world premiere of Quebecois playwright Michel Tremblay’s For the Pleasure of Seeing Her Again,which toured North America in 2002. During this era, Centaur’s portfolio of international co-productions continued to expand as the company collaborated with Dublin’s Abbey Theatre and Australia’s Melbourne Theatre Company. This period also saw the development of several successful new plays about Montreal’s Italian community including Steve Gallucio’s Mambo Italiano, which toured Canada and was made into a feature film.

In September 2007, Roy Surette was appointed the company’s third Artistic & Executive Director. During his tenure,Centaur intensified its focus on new Canadian,and often Montreal-inspired productions, including several English-language premieres of French Quebecois plays.Surette’s 2011 world premiere of Schwartz’s: The Musical, written by renowned Montreal musical-satire duo, George Bowser and Rick Blue, was named “hit of the year” by the Montreal Gazette. In 2015, Surette collaborated with Montreal’s Black Theatre Workshop and the National Arts Centre to produce an acclaimed production of The Adventures of a Black Girl in Search of God, written and directed by Djanet Sears. His tenure produced 16 world premieres and earned the company 13 Montreal English Theatre Awards.

In 2017, on the eve of the Centaur’s 50th Anniversary, the Board of Directors announced Eda Holmes as Centaur Theatre Company’s first female Artistic & Executive Director. Formerly the Associate Artistic Director at the prestigious Shaw Festival, Holmes seeks to expand on our multicultural history as a theatre and a city to make Centaur a hub of culture in Montreal by attracting the best local, national, and international theatre creators to connect with Centaur’s diverse audiences and tell the most relevant stories of our times.