Essential Collective Theatre

Niagara's ESSENTIAL Theatre

Essential Collective Theatre is a not-for-profit registered charity located in the heart of downtown St. Catharines that exists to produce contemporary Canadian theatre with a focus on new plays and Niagara work. ECT prides itself on mentoring local emerging artists, supporting playwrights, and of course, telling stories that hold up a mirror to the Niagara Region. Our performance venue is the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre (250 St. Paul Street, St. Catharines).

Current Season:

Blood Lightning 

FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre

October 4th - 12th

Sitting in between performance and ritual, Blood Lightning is an artistic offering that honours ancestry and spirit. Niagara-raised performer Joseph Recinos guides us through the complex terrain of being from two places at once. Through the use of traditional storytelling, hip-hop, movement, song and poetry, and traveling from Niagara to Guatemala to Standing Rock, this one-person show chronicles the true story of one artist’s reclaiming of their ancestral voice.

The Team 

FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre - March 20 - 23

Theatre Aquarius - March 8 -10

Bobbie just returned to school after dealing with the suicide of her brother; a former basketball superstar whose life was turned upside down when he was outed as a homosexual. To process her grief, she joins the senior girls’ basketball team as they prepare for a live-or-die championship battle. The crushing weight of expectation, grief, fear, and identity looms as each player navigates their uncertain futures.

Penned by 25-year-old Hamilton playwright Michael Kras, recently won the Herman Voaden National Playwriting Contest and was shortlisted for the Safe Words New Play Award. In a partnership between the Essential Collective Theatre and Theatre Aquarius, this world premiere production of The Team will be performed both in St. Catharines and Hamilton.


Contact Information:

  • Phone Number (admin): 289 990 7095
  • Phone Number (ticketing): 905-688-0722
  • Contact Email:

Company Information:

  • Year Founded: 1998
  • Season Timeframe: Year-round
  • Theatre Tours: Yes
  • Tour Locations:
    • Regionally
  • Engagement Contracts:
    • ITA
  • Affiliations & Memberships (other than PACT): Theatre Ontario, CAEA
  • Description of work:

    At the core of ECT's creative process and production is supporting the work of emerging and/or local playwrights and further developing the Niagara Region's performing arts community. For these reasons, ECT offers quality mentorship placements for emerging artists and collaborates with artists from the Niagara Region and beyond under the goal of infusing our creative environment with fresh energy and perspectives. The company strives to develop audiences' appreciation for new Canadian work and stories which hold up a mirror to the Niagara Region.

  • Festivals & Special Events:

    Senior Stories

    An original play based on the stories told by Niagara Seniors to emerging theatre creators. This intergenerational production’s theme for 2018 is chance encounters – creating community and building a life in Niagara

    Senior Stories has received tremendous support from the community over the past three years. This program will tour in June & July, 2018 thanks to the generous support of the Ontario Trillium Foundation.

  • New Play Development Activities:

    Wine & Reading 

    Two new plays are selected by ECT’s review committee then paired up with an experienced dramaturg and a cast of professional actors who will workshop the plays for a minimum of two four-hour sessions. The cast will then rehearse selections of the plays to read in front of our audience at ECT’s 12th Annual Wine & Reading event  at Hernder Estate Wines. ECT covers all production expenses. Past works include She’s Mine by Stephanie Jones, A Shot to the Head by Spencer Smith, White Crow by Dawn E. Crysler, Learning to Swim by Radha S. Menon, Wings of Wax by Lindsay Price, and Our Lady of Delicias by David Fancy.

  • Senior Staff:

  • Rebecca WalshGeneral Manager
  • Colin AnthesArtistic Director

Rental Information:

  • Venue rental Information:

    Venue rentals: no
  • Actors:

    Accept Resumés: yes
  • General auditions: yes