HISTORY                                                                                                                                Production History

From Shakespeare Plus to TheatreOne

When incorporated in 1983 as Shakespeare Plus, the company became a major cultural focus of the community generating immediate and lasting interest with the first public presentation at Malaspina College Theatre on July 4, 1984. Our purpose was to bring professional theatre to the people of Nanaimo and the surrounding area with a focus on the works of William Shakespeare. We’ve come a long way since that first season.

After the success of The Dunsmuirs by Nanaimo playwright Rod Langley, in the 1988 season, the company shifted its focus to developing and producing work that promoted the history and heritage of the West Coast.  Shakespeare Plus became The Nanaimo Festival Heritage Theatre Society, with a mandate to present an annual theatre festival. By 1993 the company began producing more contemporary work as well, and in 1995 moved from a summer festival format to a fall season of plays to better serve the residents of central Vancouver Island who were really the mainstay of our support. The company was evolving into a full-fledged regional theatre, and a new name was called for.  To reflect the fact that we were now the premier professional theatre company in the region we became TheatreOne.

To this day, we remain one of Nanaimo’s primary providers of quality professional entertainment. Now in our 30th Season, TheatreOne has presented 70 Mainstage productions, from Shakespeare to plays about regional history to contemporary plays by notable Canadians. Our most recent presentation was DECK by Lucas Myers.

New Play Development

In keeping with our mandate, TheatreOne is committed to the development of new and emerging Canadian playwrights, having commissioned several new works over the course of our history and providing development assistance to many more. Between 2002 and 2007, the company completed three such projects, including The Concubine’s Children by Denise Chong, and Best Left Buried by Marty Chan, two stories of the Chinese immigrant experience in Nanaimo’s earlier days. The Dunsmuirs by Nanaimo playwright Rod Langley, for which TheatreOne played an important developmental role nearly 20 years ago, recently enjoyed a successful revival at the Chemainus Theatre Festival, later remounted at Presentation House Theatre in Vancouver. 

In the past six years TheatreOne has presented a new program entitled Emerging Voices, a series of workshops and staged readings of new Canadian plays. Scripts are selected from Theatre BC’s Canadian National Playwriting Competition, and local and regional playwrights are invited to submit new work.  The series began as an educational outreach project primarily involving students in Vancouver Island University’s Theatre Department. This season Emerging Voices has grown into a full-fledged development opportunity employing professional artists engaged under Canadian Actors’ Equity rules. Emerging Voices provides an important venue through which emerging writers can have their plays workshopped by professional artists and read before an audience receiving valuable feedback in the process.

Families and Children

Since 1995 the company has also offered its Just Kidding series aimed at families with children with four productions every year. Now in its fifteenth season, the series has presented over 70 children’s shows introducing our family audiences to award-winning companies such as Axis Theatre, Carousel Theatre, Green Thumb Theatre, and Vancouver Opera Touring Ensemble.  As well as developing a children’s audience, the series has been effective in building relationships with the community in general and has gained support from local organizations such as Mid-Island Co-op, Nanaimo Canadian Tire and Nanaimo Boys and Girls Club.  TheatreOne has an ongoing commitment to provide a number of complimentary tickets to the series for the benefit of less fortunate families.

Fringe Flicks

TheatreOne has also developed a large audience base (6000 moviegoers annually) to Fringe Flicks, our series of twelve Canadian, independent and foreign films, and now with four screenings each at the Avalon Cinema. This program is an important outreach and fundraising effort providing access to many people in the Nanaimo community who are also becoming patrons of our Mainstage season and other programs.


In addition to these events, TheatreOne presents a number of fundraising activities, which have included The Grape Escape (wine tour & tasting), and always includes The Bite of Nanaimo Gourmet Food Fair.

As Nanaimo’s only professional theatre company, TheatreOne is the area’s flagship for artistic excellence. Our goal is to maintain this reputation by continuing to provide a high level of theatrical entertainment for our audiences, and support for established and emerging theatre artists and crafts persons in our community.

As Nanaimo's Own Professional Theatre Company, TheatreOne is a registered not-for-profit charitable organization and a member of the  Professional Association of Canadian Theatre. TheatreOne engages actors who are members of the Canadian Actor's Equity Association under the terms of the Canadian Theatre Agreement. 



(C) TheatreOne 2014
Office Address: Centre for the Arts - 60 Wharf St. Nanaimo BC.
Mailing Address: 150 Commercial St. Nanaimo, BC V9R 5G6
Phone: 250.754.7587 Fax: 250.754.9908
Office Hours: Monday - Friday 10am - 4pm