The Manitoulin Conservatory for Creation and Performance (MCCP) draws on the history of Canadian performing arts traditions in the development of a uniquely Canadian theatrical pedagogy. Theatre training programs began in Canada in the 1950s under the tutelage of Michel St. Denis and were attempting to emulate the excellence of British theatre. Since this time Canada has cultivated its own artistic identity; however this artistic identity and the practices that have contributed to it have not always found their way into theatrical training programs in Canada. Indeed, nearly all contemporary programs offered in Canada derive from the work of American and European masters.
The MCCP is unique in that its pedagogical program is rooted in and extends the work of a lineage of Canadian theatrical masters, visionaries and experimenters. The MCCP aims to become a living archive of Canadian performing art practices, as well as expanding these practices in new directions through ongoing experimentation, insight and innovation. Theatrical techniques are traditionally passed from teacher to student orally, generation after generation, often leaving little to no record of pedagogical techniques – their origins and their ongoing development. The MCCP aims to counteract the challenges of this cultural and artistic amnesia in Canada by approaching our pedagogy as a living archive, as well as by amassing a written archive of relevant literature and documentation.
The work of the MCCP finds its foundations in the pioneering clown and mask research done by Canadian visionary Richard Pochinko, who drew on a wide array of clown traditions to create a new form of exercise and study. In 1987, John Turner, Michael Kennard and Karen Hines entered into the training offered by Pochinko. Over 25 years of experimentation, synthesis and performance, these practitioners have furthered the work begun by Pochinko. This lineage of creative development through clown is at the center of the work done at the MCCP.
The MCCP is unique in its location and approach to teaching. Located on Manitoulin Island in Northern Ontario, the MCCP offers immersion programs that allow participants to develop their artistic practices and vision in direct connection with the Canadian wilderness. Physical location has an impact on the creative spirit. The MCCP is located in close proximity to the area that inspired the creativity and Canadian artistic expression of The Group of Seven.
The Manitoulin Conservatory for Creation and Performance is rooted in a lineage of Canadian artistic excellence. This excellence is at the core of our pedagogical practice and serves as the inspiration for future generations of artistic creation and performance in Canada.