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George Brown Theatre Department is the drama school at George Brown College in Toronto. Many graduates have gone on to successful careers as performers, artistic directors, playwrights, screenwriters and filmmakers.[1] The college is named after the Canadian politician and journalist George Brown.



The department 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 Department 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 Department 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 14-19 students.[8][9][10][11]

Abuse AllegationsEdit

In January 2018, the Toronto Star[12], CBC[13] and the Dialog[14] 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 alumni include:

  • Karl Ang - Shaw Festival
  • Aviva Armour-Ostroff - award-winning co-director of The Drawer Boy
  • Derek Arnold - War Horse, Rogue One
  • Keith Barker - Artistic Director of Native Earth, author of The Hours That Remain
  • Samantha Bee - Full Frontal with Samantha Bee, Comedy Central
  • Wade Bogert-O'Brien - Shaw Festival, Mirvish, King Charles III
  • Ryan Bondy - Elder Prince in the Book of Mormon (world tour and soon to take over the role on Broadway)
  • Adam Brazier - Artistic Director of the Charlottetown Festival
  • Catherine Bruhier - The Young & The Restless, and How to Get Away with Murder
  • Kristian Bruun - Orphan Black, Carter, Tactical Girls
  • Valerie Buhagiar - director, actor, filmmaker
  • Evan Buliung - Shaw and Stratford festivals, Man and Superman, Pericles
  • Ben Carlson - Shaw and Stratford festivals, Hamlet, The Taming of the Shrew, Much Ado About Nothing
  • Cheryl Cecchetto - Producer of Governor's Balls for Emmy Awards and Academy Awards
  • Marjorie Chan - Artistic Director of Cahoots Theatre
  • Brett Christopher - Artistic Director of Thousand Islands Playhouse
  • Alex Dault - Artistic Director of Theatre by the Bay
  • Sarah Dodd - Stratford Festival (nine seasons), The Comedy of Errors, Paradise Lost
  • Patricia Fagan - Murdoch Mysteries, Burden of Truth
  • Richie Favalaro - CHUM FM radio personality
  • Ryan Field - Stratford Festival, Soulpepper
  • Jacklyn Francis - Stratford Festival (six seasons), An Ideal Husband, To Kill a Mockingbird, Julius Caesar
  • Brendan Gall - award-winning writer, producer and actor, Blindspot, Open Heart, L.A. Complex
  • Karen Glave - Actor, teacher, Saving Hope, The Shape of Water
  • Brad Goreski - fashion stylist, E! Fashion Police
  • Jennifer Harding - Funny Girl, Mamma Mia (West End, London)
  • Falen Johnson - playwright, director, actor
  • Ron Kennell - Stratford Festival, Canadian Stage Company
  • Patrick Kwok-Choon - ST: Discovery
  • Zerha Leverman - X-men
  • Christian Lloyd - Open Heart Burglary, The Handmaid's Tale
  • Daniel MacIvor - playwright
  • Sarah Manninen - Murdoch Mysteries, Alias Grace
  • Sarah McVie - Working Moms, CBC
  • Krystal Meadows - voice over actress
  • Andre Morin - Stratford Festival (six seasons), The Tempest
  • Leora Morris - director
  • Brendan Murray - Frankie Drake Mysteries, Designated Survivor, Dark Matter
  • Lisa Norton - Bomb Girls, Rocket Monkeys, Atomic Puppet
  • Alex Paxton-Beesley - Murdoch Mysteries, Cardinal, Pure
  • Aaron Poole - Incorporated, Salvation
  • Janet Porter - The Bagel and Becky Show, Anne with an E
  • Geoffrey Pounsett - It, Private Eyes, Murdoch Mysteries
  • Chris Ratz - Gangland Undercover, 24 Hour Rental
  • Philip Riccio - Co-Artistic Director Company Theatre
  • Andre Sills - Stratford Festival, Coriolanus, The Tempest
  • Jeffrey R. Smith - Murdoch Mysteries, Suits, Designated Survivor
  • Evan Alexander Smith - Broadway actor - The Toxic Avenger, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat
  • Jamie Spilchuk - Hard Rock Medical, Running with Violet
  • Dylan Taylor - Rogue, Pure, What Would Sal Do
  • Julie Tepperman - Co-Artistic Director of Convergence Theatre
  • Lezlie Wade - director at the Shaw Festival, off-Broadway
  • Jim Watson - Slasher, The Strain, Between
  • Aaron Willis - Co-Artistic Director of Convergence Theatre
  • Sarah Wilson - Soulpepper, Animal Farm, Of Human Bondage

[citation needed]


  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 2017" (PDF).
  10. ^ "George Brown Theatre School graduates 2016" (PDF).
  11. ^ "George Brown Theatre School graduates 2015" (PDF).
  12. ^ 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.
  13. ^ "Former George Brown theatre students allege they were humiliated, abused by faculty | CBC News". CBC. Retrieved 2018-01-29.
  14. ^ "Former students call on theatre school to change its act | The Dialog". The Dialog. 2018-01-27. Retrieved 2018-01-29.

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