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Walter Learning to receive 2011 Playhouse Honours

by on February 22, 2011

The founder and long-time artistic director of Theatre New Brunswick has been named the 2011 recipient of The Playhouse Honours. Walter Learning’s contributions to the community will be celebrated at the Fredericton Playhouse’s annual Onstage Gala scheduled for Saturday, May 7th.

Learning, who founded Theatre New Brunswick in 1968, sought the commitment from groups in communities around the province, and the Beaverbrook Foundation, to create the first professional theatre company in New Brunswick, and one of the longest running regional companies in Canada. He served as artistic director of Theatre New Brunswick from 1968 to 1978 and returned as artistic producer from 1995 to 1999.

An accomplished actor, director, and playwright, Learning collaborated with critically acclaimed literary figure Alden Nowlan to produce several world premieres during his tenure at TNB. He also oversaw the institution of TNB Young Company, which has been bringing professional theatre performances to elementary, middle, and high schools in Fredericton, and in communities across the province, for over 35 years.  His contributions also led to the establishment of TNB Theatre School in 1999, which currently boasts an enrolment of over 300 students a year.

Kim Hill, President of The Fredericton Playhouse Board of Directors, explained why Learning was selected as this year’s honouree. “Walter Learning’s work with TNB has left a huge legacy in the performing arts and in our community. He brought the profession of theatre to our province and set a standard for generations of New Brunswick artists to see and emulate. He raised theatre in New Brunswick and the list of artists who grew from that is staggering,” said Hill.

“The Playhouse and Fredericton gave me the freedom and opportunity to develop the skills needed to pursue a career in the performing arts,” said Learning. “I will be forever grateful for that gift. This current honour is truly the icing on my cake.”

The Playhouse Honours, now in its fourth year, was established to foster a deeper appreciation of the value that individuals can make to community life through their work in the performing arts. The honouree is selected annually by the Playhouse Board of Directors from nominees proposed by the public, and recommended by a selection committee. The honouree is fêted at the annual Onstage Gala Dinner, a benefit event for The Playhouse’s community work, and is recognized in a permanent display located at The Playhouse. Previous recipients of The Playhouse Honours are Ilkay Silk, Brent Staeben, and Philip Sexsmith.

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