Blyth Festival was founded in 1975 by James Roy, a Blyth native and graduate
from York University’s theatre program, his wife, playwright Anne Chislett, and
Keith Roulston, the editor of Blyth’s newspaper. With its exclusively Canadian
mandate, the Blyth festival has not only premiered many Canadian play, but it
has also established itself as one of Canada’s leading summer theatre
Festival Theatre has produced more than 200 original plays of Canadian
playwrights and directors, some of whom have included Anne Chislett (Quiet in the Land), Michael Healey (Drawer Boy), Paul Thompson (The Outdoor Donnellys), Dennis Lee (Alligator Pie), and Robert Clinton (Mail Order Bride). Many of the Blyth
Festival Theatre’s world premieres have been staged across Canada and in other
countries such as Japan, Singapore, Australia, Croatia and Great Britain. Plays produced at the Blyth Festival Theatre
have received the Governor General’s Literary Award for Drama and the Chalmers
the Blyth Festival was aimed at local people but the audience has since grown
substantially. Theatre lovers from across Canada and into the United States
frequently cause the 491 seats available in the theatre to sell out. The
theatre hosts between 40,000 and 50,000 patrons every year.
Janet Amos was
Artistic Director from 1974-1984, followed by Katherine Kaszas (1984-1991,
1994-1997), and Peter Smith (1991-1994).
Since 1997, the Artistic Directors included Anne Chislett, Eric Coates,
and Marion de Vries. Gill Garrett was
appointed Artistic Director in 2014.
Festival Theatre strives to promote new and local talent through their Children’s
Workshops (for ages 5-12) and Young Company (for ages 13-19), as well as the
Blyth Festival New Play Development Program.
This program is designed to assist playwrights develop their scripts from
conception to full production, and not exclusively for Blyth Festival Theatre
productions. In addition to the theatre,
the Blyth Centre for the Arts also includes the Blyth Festival Art Gallery, Blyth
Festival Orchestra, and Blyth Festival Singers.