Tuesday, September 18, 2018
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This exhibition was planned in honour of CAEA's 25th Anniversary. The original mandate was to chronicle the achievements of Equity members from an historical perspective, allowing for diverse regional, gender and genre representation, while emphasizing seminal moments, and to show members at work and at play. "At work" was the easy part. "At play" was far more difficult, as it seems clear that being on stage - though very hard work - is also play for those who devote their lives to the craft.
Sometimes - very infrequently in the early days - a professional photographer would record at least key scenes from a rehearsal. If we were fortunate enough to have one of these photographs in our hands, perhaps - if we were very lucky - we'd have an accurate listing of names of the performers, the directors, the stage managers, and very occasionally, the photographer. The stories attached to the early years in particular overwhelm me with awe and respect. "I know, my dad's got a barn, let's do a show!" Many of the early companies were founded by groups of young performers desperate to have an opportunity to ply their craft. 1948, fresh out of summer stock somewhere in upper New York state, a group of young performers sat down and decided they'd start their own company, and lo and behold, The Straw Hat Players was born. It thrived for over 20 years before evolving into spin-off companies that are still entertainment summer audiences all over Ontario, and launched the careers of countless Canadian performers.
Some artists' names from the early years show up repeatedly in the exhibition, moving from performing to directing to artistic direction of major theatres, to teaching. Very likely, the same thing will happen to the names appearing for the first time in the 80's and 90's, as the cycle continues.
Over 400 photographs were submitted from members and theatres across the country. This may sound like a lot, but at this time, there are 5000 active CAEA members, 300 registered theatres, countless independent production companies and cooperatives. In the end, we made 84 prints from 89 images (5 doubles), covering 1946 to 2001, with a selection committee of wide experience and differing backgrounds.
We received enormous cooperation and assistance from archivists, particularly at York University, Dalhousie University and the Stratford Festival. Many theatre companies went above and beyond in providing historical data and in digging through their own catalogues. Some others were simply unable to respond to our requests, and we are sorry to not be able to include them. CAEA members shared precious, personal mementos and memories. Research was done with the assistance of a number of CAEA staff, of members with personal memories, and with frequent reference to "Standing Naked in the Wings" by Lynda Mason Green and Tedde Moore, "The Oxford Companion to Canadian Theatre," and The Canadian Theatre Encyclopedia, www.canadiantheatre.com.
The photographers we were able to contact for permission to include their copyrighted work were unfailingly supportive. Of particular note are David Cooper of Vancouver (8 photos) and Toronto photographer Robert C. Ragsdale, f.r.p.s. (Fellow of the Royal Photographic Society, 9 photos). We received submissions in a range of formats - black and white and colour prints sized from 4x5 to 14x17 inches, colour negatives, colour transparencies and digital/electronic files of varying quality. The final, archival prints in this exhibition are laminated for protection and are guaranteed to last for 200 years. Details about the printing process follow later, but we are proud to be using the Epson Canada 200P print process and appreciate their generous donation of inks and paper. Toronto photographer Andre Leduc prepared the archival prints, and I am grateful for his painstaking care and cooperation through many changes and revisions.
Whenever possible, we have listed the names of the performers (from left to right, back row to front), the directors, the stage managers, assistant stage managers, the choreographers, the artistic director, where the photograph came from and who the photographer was (right click on the photo for this information). Where you see 'unidentified' in the credits, it means we were unable to confirm a name. Every effort at accurate spelling of names has been made, and we apologize for any errors. Missing information, corrections, comments or questions about hosting the exhibition (it's designed to travel!) are welcome to the attention: Communications Department, CAEA National office, 44 Victoria Street, 12th Floor, Tor. ON M5C 3C4 or via e-mail: communications@caea.com.

Information identified in the Equity Photo Exhibit
is current to the exhibit's debut (Spring 2001).
© 2001 ·CAEA ·All rights reserved
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