Atlantic Theatre Festival

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
The Festival Theatre in March, 2007.

The Atlantic Theatre Festival (ATF) was a professional theatre company located in Wolfville, Nova Scotia, Canada. The Theatre Festival presented a "broad range of critically acclaimed theatre classics" during the summer in Wolfville's Festival Theatre, the former town hockey arena which was converted into a 504 seat, thrust stage theatre and professional production facility by the Atlantic Theatre Festival Society (a non-profit charity).


Over two million dollars was contributed by the local, Nova Scotian, and Canadian governments to create the Festival Theatre. Stratford Festival veteran Michael Langham was among the directors who brought national acclaim to the festival during the Founder's Season of 1995. The reputation of the festival grew over the following seasons as it attracted the likes of Megan Follows, Christopher Plummer, and area native Peter Donat to join its company. In later years, despite originally being conceived as a classical repertory, the festival maintained its critical success as it began to include works by Canadian playwrights as well as family-friendly musicals.

Despite a strong critical reputation, mounting debts over the first five years forced the Atlantic Theatre Festival to reduce cast sizes, lay-off crew, and cancel productions. The construction of the Festival Theatre initially came as a result of a twenty-year (dollar-a-year) lease from Acadia University. In 2002, this agreement was terminated and a new lease was offered that reduced the professional theatre company to a seasonal tenant. This arrangement threatened the Atlantic Theatre Festival's existence, causing the cancellation of the 2004 season. The festival theatre stage remained dark in 2005, but had a successful renewal in 2006. With one main stage production and comedic readings to form the "Summer of Laughter" season both audiences and tourists returned. The financial success did not continue the following season as the festival returned to a multi-play format. In August 2007, artistic director Nigel Bennett was forced to resign mid-season after the Board of Directors informed him that sufficient funds were not available to continue. One production completed its run while two others, one on stage and the other in rehearsal, were cancelled. A lack of funding from both provincial and federal levels was named as the main cause of the closure.[1]

Currently, the Festival Theatre is used for the Acadia University Performing Arts Series, which are held throughout the University school year, and for conferences.

Artistic Directors[edit]

Production history[edit]