Under the guidance of master teachers, researchers and movement artists, we offer hands-on training and professional development opportunities for actors, performers and technicians at every stage of their careers. 

Opera as Theatre program production Lillian Alling, August 2011. Photo: Don Lee


History of Theatre At The Banff Centre

Scene from the premiere of drama production The Rainmaker.

The Banff Centre got its start as the Banff School of Drama in 1933. It was born during the period of political discontent and disillusionment that characterized Depression-era Alberta. In the 1920's, small, local theatre groups had begun to flourish nationwide. The movement gained momentum in the early 1930's, as the failing economy put a stop to touring shows. Suddenly, Albertans were left to their own resources for entertainment and social development.

Responding to this need, Ned Corbett, head of the University of Alberta's Department of Extension, applied for a $30,000 Carnegie Grant. In 1932, he established a travelling arts development program for the province and hired Elizabeth Haynes to teach drama, and the following year The Banff School of Drama was established.

Actors have responded enthusiastically to the program at The Banff Centre ever since its inception in 1933. Back then, an unexpectedly high number of students registered for The Banff School of Drama, a summer class that was held in the old Brewster Auditorium on Banff Avenue.

Initially, the program responded to the needs of the regional, activist theatre of Depression-era Alberta. But over the years, and under the direction of prominent Canadian actors and instructors the focus of the program has shifted to meet the needs of actors across Canada.