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The George Brown Theatre School is the drama school at George Brown College in Toronto. Providing training in multiple forms and practices of theatre, it is one of the highest-regarded conservatory schools for drama in Canada.

George Brown Theatre School
Young Centre for the Performing Arts, 31 October 2018.jpg
The Young Centre for the Performing Arts, where the school is located.
TypeDrama school
Parent institution
George Brown College
ChairpersonTrent Scherer
CoordinatorSue Miner
Location, ,

Many graduates have gone on to successful careers as performers, artistic directors, playwrights, screenwriters, and filmmakers.[1]



The school was founded in 1976 under the artistic leadership of veteran actor and director Joseph Shaw. The program was originally housed at the Kensington Campus of George Brown College. It moved to an old Christie's Warehouse space that had been refurbished for the program at 530 King Street East the following year.

Upon Shaw's retirement in 1986, Heinar Piller became Artistic Director. Piller engaged Peter C. Wylde as Head of Acting and under their leadership the program was expanded from two to three years. The curriculum was redesigned with a focus on classical text and expanded performance elements to showcase its graduating students.

Following Piller's 1997 retirement, Paul Lampert became Artistic Director until 2000. James Simon then served as leader. Paul Carder, Dean of Business and Creative Arts at George Brown College, approached Soulpepper theatre company, with the suggestion that a partnership be struck between Soulpepper and the George Brown Theatre School to create a new performance/education facility.


In November 2001, the Distillery Historic District Project was announced as a new Toronto attraction. The partnership of George Brown College and Soulpepper immediately began negotiations with the Cityscape Development group to take possession of Tank Houses 9 and 10, creating what became the Young Centre for the Performing Arts. The vision of this partnership was to create a performing arts, education and community outreach facility and home to the school program, Soulpepper and Toronto’s independent arts community.

Young Centre for the Performing ArtsEdit

In 2002, the architectural firm of Kuwabara Payne McKenna Blumberg Architects was hired to design the centre with Thomas Payne as the principal architect. The design offered four flexible, dedicated, indoor performance venues, four studios, two classrooms, a wardrobe production facility, a student lounge, artist garden and administration offices for George Brown and Soulpepper. At the centre is a welcoming atrium that includes a café/bar and fireplace. The cost was $14 million, shared equally between the partners. In 2003, David Young, through the Michael Young Family Foundation, contributed a lead gift of $3 million to what became the Young Centre for the Performing Arts. The facility officially opened to the public on January 15, 2006 and has operated with a combined commercial and educational theatre mandate ever since.


George Brown Theatre School trains actors and theatre artists who graduate with varied experience from many instructors, guest teachers and guest directors. George Brown graduates have earned accolades on stage – from the Shaw and Stratford festivals to independent theatres in Canadian urban centres – as well as in film and television.[2][3][4][5][6]

Admission and graduation ratesEdit

The George Brown Theatre School is a conservatory program. Between 30 and 32 students are accepted into a first-year program. In 2017, 23 students graduated — one of the largest classes in recent history.[7] A typical graduating class has about 14 to 19 students.[8][9][10]

Abuse allegationsEdit

In January 2018, the Toronto Star[11], CBC[12] and the Dialog[13] published articles describing bullying, discrimination, harassment, and abuse perpetrated by George Brown Theatre School faculty members against students. The incidents reported by former students were said to have taken place between 2000 and 2015. According to the articles, allegations of abuse were reported to the George Brown College and George Brown Theatre School administrations by former students in 2007.

Notable alumniEdit

Notable George Brown Theatre School alumni include:[14]


  1. ^ "George Brown Theatre School - Prominent graduates".
  2. ^ "George Brown Theatre School - Prominent graduates".
  3. ^ "at Confederation Centre of the Arts in Charlottetown".
  4. ^ "Daniel MacIvor - Playwrights Canada Press".
  5. ^ "Evan Alexander Smith - Broadway and theatre credits".
  6. ^ "Marjorie Chan - Canadian Theatre Encyclopedia".
  7. ^ "George Brown Theatre School graduates 2017" (PDF).
  8. ^ "George Brown Theatre School graduates 2018" (PDF).
  9. ^ "George Brown Theatre School graduates 2016" (PDF).
  10. ^ "George Brown Theatre School graduates 2015" (PDF).
  11. ^ Henry, Michele (2018-01-12). "George Brown Theatre School teacher left job after ex-student alleged inappropriate sexual comments". The Toronto Star. ISSN 0319-0781. Retrieved 2018-01-29.
  12. ^ "Former George Brown theatre students allege they were humiliated, abused by faculty | CBC News". CBC. Retrieved 2018-01-29.
  13. ^ "Former students call on theatre school to change its act | The Dialog". The Dialog. 2018-01-27. Retrieved 2018-01-29.
  14. ^ "Alumni Stories — Prominent Graduates".
  15. ^ "The Rise and Rise of Samantha Bee".
  16. ^ "Shaun Benson".
  17. ^ "2006 George Brown Theatre School Graduates".
  18. ^ "Making the Leap" (PDF).
  19. ^ "'Better Than Chocolate' star Karyn Dwyer dies at 43".
  20. ^ "Theatre Arts — Preparation Program (P108)" (PDF).
  21. ^ "Janaya Stephens — About".

Coordinates: 43°39′05″N 79°22′13″W / 43.65127°N 79.37025°W / 43.65127; -79.37025