Collection F2311 - Earle Grey Players

Open original Digital object

Title and statement of responsibility area

Title proper

Earle Grey Players

General material designation

  • Textual record
  • Object

Parallel title

Other title information

Title statements of responsibility

Title notes

Level of description

Collection

Reference code

CA ON00335 F2311

Edition area

Edition statement

Edition statement of responsibility

Class of material specific details area

Statement of scale (cartographic)

Statement of projection (cartographic)

Statement of coordinates (cartographic)

Statement of scale (architectural)

Issuing jurisdiction and denomination (philatelic)

Dates of creation area

Date(s)

  • 1949-1994 (Creation)
    Creator
    Earle Grey Players

Physical description area

Physical description

3 cm of textual records
1 artefact

Publisher's series area

Title proper of publisher's series

Parallel titles of publisher's series

Other title information of publisher's series

Statement of responsibility relating to publisher's series

Numbering within publisher's series

Note on publisher's series

Archival description area

Name of creator

(1946-1959)

Administrative history

For two nights in June 1946, the Earle Grey Players staged a production of Shakespeare’s <i>Twelfth Night</i> on the north terrace of the Trinity College quadrangle with the support of the Provost of Trinity College Dr. R.S.K. Seeley. The company of players was founded by Earle Grey and his wife Mary Godwin, British actors with a wealth of theatrical experience who moved to Canada in the early 1940s. They established the Earle Grey Players with the goal of cultivating an appreciation for Shakespeare in Canada and presenting Shakespeare’s plays in a way closely aligned with the original spirit and intent of the playwright. The critical success of <i>Twelfth Night</i> led to productions in other locations and in the following summer of 1947, audience demand resulted in the presentation of <i>A Midsummer Night’s Dream</i> for five nights at Trinity College. Also in 1947, plays were staged at Central High School of Commerce which initiated a series of school productions in support of the founders desire to bring the stimulation and excitement of Shakespearean drama to school audiences.

On June 27th, 1949, at Trinity College, the Earle Grey Players opened the first official Shakespeare Festival with a production of <i>As You Like It.</i> Revealing the significance of the event for the cultural life of Toronto, the festival was opened by the Lieutenant-Governor of Ontario and Mrs. Ray Lawson and had the backing of City Council and tourist associations as well as growing press coverage. With the broader goal of representing Shakespeare’s time, free Elizabethan music concerts using period instruments were added to the festival programme as well as an exhibit in the Trinity College Entrance Hall of books and prints relating to Shakespeare. In support of the Shakespeare Festival, both the Royal Ontario Museum and the Toronto Art Gallery put on exhibits and displays of pottery, furniture, costumes, photographs and prints relevant to Shakespearean times.

In 1950 four comedies were produced at the Festival and the Earle Grey Players expanded their tour of Shakespearean productions to other locations and high schools. In 1951, the Trustees of Shakespeare’s Birthplace (Stratford-Upon-Avon) presented a mulberry tree to the Festival which was planted in the Trinity quadrangle. By 1951 there was a growing wardrobe department under the direction of former Hart House Theatre Designer and Assistant Director Mabel Letchford who developed an extensive Elizabethan wardrobe including articles donated by renowned English actors. As news of the Festival’s existence had travelled to England, donations of theatrical suits of armour and other items began to arrive.

The first effort to present a Shakespearean tragedy was in 1952. <i>Julius Caesar</i> was presented to great acclaim. With audiences continuing to grow, the Earle Grey Players took Shakespeare’s plays to more than 24 high schools. For the 1952 season the Festival displayed a rare First Folio of Shakespeare’s plays printed in 1623, a donation from the Folger Library in Washington and the first instance of a First Folio on Canadian soil.

By 1953 and 1954, the Festival had expanded to five weeks of productions, a more permanent stage had been built, well known musicians were playing in the free Elizabethan music concerts, and the Earle Grey Players toured schools in locations as far away as the Maritimes. The school tours were arguably the most valuable contribution of the Earle Grey Players as they provided students with their first opportunity to see live performances of Shakespeare’s plays. By 1956, the school tours function of the Earle Grey Players required the Players to undertake 10 weeks of travel through Ontario’s smaller towns.

The Earle Grey Players Shakespeare Festival was produced annually until 1959, when renovations at Trinity College necessitated finding a new home for the festival. When nothing materialized, Mary Godwin and Earle Grey returned to England and continued acting until their respective deaths in 1971 and 1978.

Custodial history

Collection created by archivist from various small accessions

Scope and content

The Earle Grey Players Collection consists of programmes and brochures for the annual Shakespeare Festival held at Trinity College, historical information on the founding and development of the Shakespeare Festival, and ephemera related to the Festival, including a bronze plaque commemorating the location of a mulberry tree grown from a tree in Shakespeare’s birthplace Stratford-on-Avon.

Notes area

Physical condition

Immediate source of acquisition

Arrangement

Arranged by archivist.

Language of material

Script of material

Location of originals

Availability of other formats

Restrictions on access

Open

Terms governing use, reproduction, and publication

Public Domain

Finding aids

Associated materials

Related materials

Accruals

Alternative identifier(s)

Standard number area

Standard number

Access points

Subject access points

Place access points

Name access points

Genre access points

Control area

Description record identifier

Institution identifier

Rules or conventions

Status

Level of detail

Dates of creation, revision and deletion

Language of description

Script of description

Sources

Digital object (Master) rights area

Digital object (Reference) rights area

Digital object (Thumbnail) rights area

Accession area

Related subjects

Related people and organizations

Related places

Related genres