One of Canada’s oldest theatre companies dedicated to developing new work, Theatre Passe Muraille was founded in 1968 at Toronto’s Rochdale College by playwright and director Jim Garrard. “Passe Muraille” meaning “beyond walls”, speaks to the company’s lasting mandate to create theatre that is inclusive and experimental, transcending boundaries and reaching into the community.
In the 1970’s TPM gained its national reputation under the artistic directorship of Paul Thompson, who guided the company towards a distinctive style of collective creation. Within one decade of its founding, TPM had developed and produced 22 collective creations. Productions such as The Farm Show, The Immigrant Show and The West Show, were developed by members of the TPM ensemble who lived in a community for a period of time and recording the stories of those they met, as well as their own experiences, to be used as source material for a new piece of theatre. The productions were often first presented for the audiences that inspired them, allowing many to see their community reflected on stage for the first time. In 1974, TPM produced I Love You, Baby Blue, a collective creation that was seen by over 26,000 people before the Toronto Police charged the company with indecency for having nude actors on stage. The profits generated from I Love You, Baby Blue funded Theatre Passe Muraille’s purchase of a new venue at 16 Ryerson Avenue, a historic building that was originally a bakery built in 1902, where the company has resided since.