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The Pleiades story begins in 1997 when John Van Burek started Pleiades Theatre, working out of his house.
Founding Board Members, Retired
Dr. Harry Arthurs
David Silcox (Chair)
That year Pleiades produced Marcel Pursued by the Hounds in co-production with Tarragon Theatre. John was aided by Mallory Gilbert (Tarragon's then GM) on the administrative side of things.
The following year, 1998, Pleiades continued to work in co-production, this time with Théâtre français de Toronto (where John had been AD previously) and produced The Government Guy, once again at the Tarragon Theatre.
"I spent the better part of each year raising the money to do the shows and the Outreach. Then, we would rehearse for 3 weeks and run for another 3. Ridiculous!"
John van Burek
In 2000, Pleiades started producing plays at the Artword Theatre, and would continue to do so for the next five years. With the growing size of the company John enlisted Small Theatre Administration Facility (STAF) to come on board to share in some of the administrative tasks. The first show Pleiades Theatre produced under this new model was The Game of Love and Chance. This was also the start of three year history with the works of 17th Century French playwright, Marivaux.
With the start of the new millennium, John was able to bring more staff on to the Pleiades Theatre team. In 2001, Erin Shields came on board with a Theatre Ontario grant to do Outreach and as an Assistant Producer. Naomi Campbell joined as the Producer of The Triumph of Love.
Then, in 2002, Gideon Arthurs joined Pleiades Theatre and worked with Erin Shields on Outreach. STAF returned and worked with Pleiades again to produce Counterfeit Secrets.
Sticking with the team from last year, John, Erin, Gideon and STAF would produce Pleiades Theatre's first non-French translation and first adaptation from a novella in 2003 with Heart of a Dog, partnering with Théâtre français de Toronto for a second time in Pleiades' history. They were all joined by Josee Duranleau, of Duranleau Publicity, to handle the marketing of the show.
2004 saw the production of Pleiades Theatre's first original work called Beaux Gestes & Beautiful Deeds.
2005 arguably marked the biggest year in Pleiades Theatre's history, not only in terms of productions but also in terms of changes and growth. Pleiades put on two shows for the first time in its history.
The Seven Days of Simon Labrosse was produced in co-production with Montreal Young Company and Gravy Bath Productions; the second show was The Amorous Servant and both shows were performed at the Artword Theatre before it moved to Hamilton, ON.
Marilo Nuñez came on board as the General Manager for the company, joining John in a leadership position at Pleiades Theatre. Karen Gilodo joined Pleiades to do Outreach.
For the first time in its history, Pleiades Theatre moved out of John's house and into its new home in The Distillery District (15 Case Goods Lane, 4th floor).
Lastly, a new logo was created by PHILIP SUNG & ASSOCIATES.
After all the changes of the previous year, in 2006 Pleiades Theatre (and its team of John, Marilo, and Karen) went back to its roots and produced another Michel Tremblay play; a Canadian classic that John had translated back in 1974, Hosanna. The show was mounted at the newly opened Young Centre for the Performing Arts in the Distillery District.
2007 marked Pleiades Theatre's 10th anniversary! Pleiades had built itself up from a one-man, in-home, operation to mid-size theatre company with three staff and offices at one of Toronto's theatre hubs (Distillery District). For this anniversary year, Pleiades partnered with the National Arts Centre in Ottawa and they produced Dying to be Sick, at the Theatre Centre.