The Best of the Small Scale

The Lowdown on What’s What in Montreal Indie Theatre

  • View of the stage at Mainline Theatre Photo Erin Sparks

In a city like this,

it’s often hard to know where to start in terms of art offerings because there is, quite simply, so much going on every week it’s almost impossible to keep track of it all.

When it comes to theatre, things get even more complicated.

From improv to festivals, to one-man-shows and full-blown musical productions, there are dozens of genres of theatre to enjoy practically every night of the week, in every borough.

Here’s our breakdown of the smaller productions companies and venues in the city that are sometimes easy to miss.

Montreal Fringe Festival
June 4 to June 24
Every sort of performance you could dream of all summed up in three chock-full weeks of theatre around the city. Since the shows are chosen by a lottery system, it’s hard to predict what will be shown each year, but you can be sure that ticket prices will be reasonable for all of the 700 shows this summer.

Performances at Bain St. Michel (5300 St. Dominique St.)
With a mandate of sparking political discourse while providing entertaining and innovative theatre, Infinithéâtre presents the majority of their plays in English and encourages writers from other media—like novelists and journalists—to try their hand at writing for the stage.
All performances are at the Bain St. Michel, a drained swimming pool converted into an art space and managed by the City of Montreal.

Metachroma Theatre
A new company launched only last year, Metachroma Theatre is the city’s only theatre company dedicated to employing only actors of colour. Their line-up hasn’t been released for the upcoming season just yet, but they’re definitely a young company to keep an eye on.

Montreal Improv
(3713 St. Laurent Blvd., #202)
Hosting not only comedy and theatre performances six nights a week, the venue also offers free drop-in workshops for those just looking to see what improv is all about.

Théâtre Sainte Catherine
(264 Ste. Catherine St. E.)
A small theatre close to Berri-UQAM Metro, Théâtre Sainte Catherine is probably best known for its weekly Sunday night improv show, where those brave enough to try out the comedy waters are scored by the audience—who then decide who’s funny enough to move on.

DB Clarke Theatre
(Hall Building, 1455 de Maisonneuve Blvd. W.)
A decently swanky venue inside Concordia, the DB Clarke theatre has around 400 seats and is a favourite for performing arts students at the university.
Good news for students, if you’re enrolled in classes at Concordia and are looking for a venue to rent, you can save around $800, making this probably the highest quality theatre you can get for the lowest price.

Tuesday Night Café Theatre
(3485 McTavish St.)
Affiliated with the English Department at McGill, TNC Theatre is a student-run space perfect for those just starting out in the theatre scene. Don’t be fooled by the name—they perform more often than just Tuesday Nights, and welcome volunteers interested in any aspect of theatre, from production to acting to the more technical side of things.

Geordie Productions
(4001 Berri St.)
Billed as a “Theatre for All Audiences,” Geordie Productions focuses on anglo-professional theater for everyone. They also run Espace 4001, a black-box space available for rent for a whole variety of artistic endeavours due to its ability to be transformed into practically any space renters are in need of.

Les Ateliers Jean-Brillant
(661 Rose de Lima St.)
A neat warehouse-type space in St. Henri, they rent out their spaces and studios in order to fund their own projects. Their focus is finding new modes of productions, as well as being a unique workspace.

International Anarchist Theatre Festival
May 21 to May 22
Literally the only festival of its kind in the world, Montreal’s International Anarchist Theatre Festival features all kinds of performances from puppetry to cabaret, all united under the same theme—anti-capitalist anarchism.

Festival Transamériques
May 22 to June 8
Now in its seventh year of celebrating dance and theatre in a contemporary context, the hybrid festival also hosts workshops and debates so the audience can become more involved in the performances. The programming themes change each year, but generally the only criteria is present work from a variety of origins.

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