Prologue to the Performing Arts

Prologue to the Performing Arts.

Prologue to the Performing Arts

Prologue to the Performing Arts. Volunteer organization founded in 1966 in Toronto to serve as a liaison between boards of education and the COC, the National Ballet of Canada, and Young People's Theatre and to present in intermediate schools live productions planned jointly by the performing companies, the prologue organization, and the education authorities.

The first program was a package series consisting of an opera, a ballet, and a play, each work an hour long, tailored for students in grades 7, 8, and 9, and available to a client-school at an all-in-one fee of $1000. In its first season Prologue to the Performing Arts presented 37 such series (111 performances by the three companies), and by 1970 it was giving 101 series in Toronto alone and 52 in Windsor, Ottawa, and other Ontario centres, a total of 387 individual performances that year. By 2004, more than 3000 performances were being presented annually. The number of performing companies supplying productions increased from three in 1967, to 12 in 1976, and to 34 in 1990, and the audience was broadened from exclusively intermediate-level students to primary, junior, and secondary level. These productions showcase various artistic disciplines including opera, dance, musical theatre, music, puppet theatre, theatre, and storytelling. Performers have included Ballet Creole, Ballet Jörgen, the National Ballet of Canada, the Montreal Guitar Trio, Theatre Direct Canada, and the Canadian Opera Company.

Prologue performances are intended to function as learning tools to complement school curriculum. They offer age-appropriate programming for students from all grade levels that treats contemporary themes of relevance to subject matter taught in school. Prologue's performances have been traditionally confined to the Ontario region, however their outlook has become increasingly national in scope.

Prologue to the Performing Arts is governed by a board and operated from a Toronto office under the supervision of a professional administrator. There is no regular musical director in the organization's employ. The presentations are prepared and manned entirely by the companies which provide them. Prologue's involvement is in the initial planning and the organization of the market. Prologue relies on funding from the Trillium Foundation, the Ontario Arts Council, the Toronto Arts Council, the Canada Council for the Arts as well as many other supporters.

Prologue has commissioned (among other works) two operas: The Spirit of Fundy (1972) by Norman Symonds and The Glove (1975) by Tibor Polgar and George Jonas, both works given special productions for students by the COC. The Glove was telecast on CBC in 1975. The COC also provided productions of Pergolesi's La Serva Padrona (1967), Menotti's The Old Maid and the Thief (1968 and 1973), Wolf-Ferrari's The Secret of Suzanne (1969), Argento's The Boor (1969), and Donizetti's Rita (1970). Opera performances are accompanied by piano. In 1986 Prologue commissioned two musical theatre pieces from Leslie Arden, Rumpelstiltskin and A Fairy's Tale, both of which she also produced.

Choral works have been composed for the organization by Keith Bissell and Brad Warnaar.


Further Reading

  • Lennon, Maureen. 'Prologue to the Performing Arts: education is the key,' Dance in Canada, 47, Spring 1986