In focus

The National Arts Center: founding and mission

The opening of the National Arts Center (NAC) in 1969, in the wake of Canada’s 100th anniversary celebrations, raises the visibility of theatre in the nation’s capital. From its inception, the NAC’s mission is to reflect Canada’s linguistic duality in the presentation of music, opera, theatre and dance. To serve the country’s two linguistic communities, the NAC simultaneously presents two theatrical seasons: one in French and the other in English.

For a long time, the French NAC program hosts mainly out-of-town productions, hailing mostly from Montréal.  The first attempts to set up a resident company all run out of steam after a few years, with Franco-Ontarian actors committing instead to other companies such as L’Atelier, not to be confused with the NAC performance space that bears the same name. Local plays are presented elsewhere, such as the University of Ottawa’s Academic Hall and the École secondaire De La Salle.

It is not until 1983 that the first Franco-Ontarian play is staged at the NAC: L’inconception by Robert Marinier, a playwright originally from Sudbury. His play, co-produced with Montréal’s Théâtre d'Aujourd’hui, is performed for a month, from November 8 to December 8, 1983.