Theatre Terrific was founded in 1985 by Connie Hargrave to provide theatre training and performance opportunities to disabled persons in the Vancouver region. At the time, no theatres in Vancouver were accessible, and the idea of disability and theatre interacting in innovative ways had yet to gain hold. Theatre Terrific was a pioneer; it is Western Canada’s oldest theatre company that works with mixed abilities casting.
In its early days, Theatre Terrific aimed to bridge theatre training and public education concerning people with disabilities. Founding artistic director, Sue Lister, and other instructors, taught courses across the Lower Mainland to hundreds of disabled and non-disabled students, across a broad spectrum of theatre arts. Theatre Terrific also staged performances through its Direct Access performing troupe, a range of school shows which toured the province, as well as Fringe and main-stage productions
Often developed in collaboration with award-winning professional artists, many of these shows focused on disability themes and sought to engage and educate audiences. With a growing body of work, Theatre Terrific gained increasing professional recognition in the Vancouver theatre community. In 1994, for example, Theatre Terrific Society received a Jessie Richardson award from the Vancouver Theatre Alliance for “Distinctive Mandate” In the same year, a play commissioned by Theatre Terrific brought to its playwright a Jessie Award for best play. In 1996 Theatre Terrific was nominated for “outstanding ensemble cast” in relation to its production of Breeding Doubts.
Since 2005, under the artistic direction of Susanna Uchatius, Theatre Terrific strives to move ahead and away from the narrow special interest label associated with ‘disability theatre’.