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Mount Allison University Libraries | Music Library
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All the World's a Stage: Welcome

A virtual exhibition celebrating the history of Drama at Mount Allison University.

Welcome

Welcome to this virtual exhibition, which pays tribute to the longstanding tradition of drama at Mount Allison University.

 

A brief history

The history of dramatic productions at Mount Allison likely dates back to its founding. As early as 1875 “literary entertainments,” often presented by faculty, were referenced in the student newspaper. These entertainments generally took the form of dramatic readings and were presented as part of the "closing exercises" or convocation program at the end of the year.

Early drama at Mount Allison was fostered by the Mount Allison Ladies' College department of Reading and Elocution. The strong music program at the Conservatory included "training in the essentials of Expression, Physical Training, Respiration, Vocal Culture, Articulation, and the Laws of Analysis and Syntheses governing Expressing Speech." Oratory classes produced playlets and pageants which stimulated further interest in drama.

At the turn of the century, it became customary for students of the University to present an annual college play. In the absence of a proper theatre on campus, the annual dramatic performances were for many years staged in the Imperial Theatre in town. Throughout the 1920s, Miss Ida M. Leslie, a graduate of Emmerson College of Oratory and lecturer at the Ladies' College, produced and directed plays on campus. A "College Night" was held each year and during the summer break the Mount Allison College Players toured the Maritime Provinces. Plays such as "Stronghearts," "Daddy Longlegs," "The Charm School," and "Green Stockings" were presented. From 1921-1926 their productions were well-received in communities like Amherst, Parrsboro, Wolfville, Annapolis, Yarmouth, and Lunenburg.

The 1930s saw increased activity in both dramatic and musical theatre, and a number of student societies have promoted the role of drama on campus since, including the Mount Allison Little Theatre Society (1930-1939), the Choral Society (1932-present), the Mount Allison Players (1939-1975), Garnet and Gold (1961-present), Windsor Theatre (1971-2014), Tintamarre (1974-present) and, more recently, the Motyer-Fancy Theatre (2014-present). The teaching of drama became more formalized in 1975 with the appointment of Arthur Motyer (1925-2011) as the first director of drama. Motyer was instrumental in the establishment the Drama Studies program.

Subsequent pages chronicle this history and include photographs, lists of group members and productions, playbills, and set and costume designs. The Mount Allison University Archives is pleased to present this virtual exhibition, and we hope that you will enjoy learning more about this important piece of our institution's history.

A group of 10 men and women standing together in costumes. The men wear suits while the women wear evening dresses typical of the time period.

 Cast of the play The Varsity Coach, 3 April 1919

Includes Mabel S. Moore, Beryl Moore, George Bacon and Eleanor Palmer, Russell Cahill, Marion Sealy, Norman Burchell, Helen Smith, Charles V. Porter, and Phyllis Wood.

Mount Allison University Archives. Hilda McNutt fonds, 2003.04/3/8. May only be reproduced with permission of the Mount Allison University Archives.

Three men sitting together at the left while another man is at the door holding a bouquet of flowers. All of them are wearing suits. They appear to be in a parlour room rather than on a stage.

Possibly members of the cast of Strongheart, 1921

Mount Allison University Archives. Hilda McNutt fonds, 2003.04/3/5. May only be reproduced with permission of the Mount Allison University Archives.

A group of sixteen men and women stand or sit on stage in costumes. Most of them are wearing tuxedos or evening dresses typical of the period, with the exception of one man dressed in a soldier's uniform and one woman dressed as a maid. The stage has been decorated with chairs, tables, a fake window, and posters on the walls.

Cast of the Senior Class play production of The Whole Town's Talking,  1932

The cast included the following individuals: S. Wood, L. Hawco, J. Patterson, W. Steeves, Mrs. Wells, J. Robbins, E. Rackham, R. Trimble, E. West, S. Gold, H. Ball, M. Carr, A. Murchie and M. Kinnear.

Mount Allison University Archives. Picture Collection, 2007.07/2371. May only be reproduced with permission of the Mount Allison University Archives.

Six cast members sitting or standing together on stage in costume. The women wear simple white dresses while the men are wearing suits and tuxedos.

Cast members of Antigone, January 1953

The image includes standing (left to right): Ron Irving, Fred Colwell and Bayne Carew; seated: Dot Ellis, Widge Seeley and Harry Currie

Mount Allison University Archives. Picture Collection, 2007.07/2362. May only be reproduced with permission of the Mount Allison University Archives.

Three men standing together on stage wearing military uniforms. The stage is decorated with drop sheet, a table and chair, and liquor bottles.

Cast members of A Man's a Man by Bertolt Brecht, March 1978

Mount Allison University Archives. Windsor Theatre fonds, 8655/B2/5/14/1. May only be reproduced with permission of the Mount Allison University Archives.

A man and a woman singing together. They are both wearing Victorian period costumes.

Cast members of The Threepenny Opera by Bertolt Brecht, December 1980

Mount Allison University Archives. Windsor Theatre fonds, 8655/B/2/5/27.3. May only be reproduced with permission of the Mount Allison University Archives.

Eleven men and women on stage. They are wearing a variety of costumes, including a few dressed as clergy and one as royalty. One person in the background appears to be dressed as a television. The man standing to the left is holding a guitar.

Cast members of the L'histoire du Quebec en trois regimes by Leandre Bergeron, February 1981

Mount Allison University Archives. Windsor Theatre fonds, 8655/B2/5/28/4. May only be reproduced with permission of the Mount Allison University Archives.