Gateway Theatre held its first meeting on April 20, 1965. In 1967, the organization incorporated and the name was changed to Saskatoon Gateway Players. Saskatoon Theatre for Children was formed in 1963 and in 1976 this group became amalgamated with Gateway. As Gateway Theatre for Children, it presented an annual children’s play and often served as a training ground for future main-stage directors, actors and technicians.
Gateway’s main performance venue was Castle Theatre at Aden Bowman Collegiate. For storage and play preparation, Gateway rented various warehouse spaces and over the years shared these with other amateur performance companies. Gateway also served as a valuable community resource, loaning and renting sets, props and costumes for many province-wide school and community ventures. As with all theatrical productions, the relocations, renovations and serving of community accessible resources were accomplished entirely through the efforts of dedicated volunteers.
From 1968 onwards, Gateway presented a season of five plays each yar for family and general audiences, and in terms of subject matter and theatrical challenge it always strove to stretch and develop artists, technicians, and audiences.
Over the years, Gateway entered many theatrical competitions winning over 100 awards, and also acted as host to theatre festivals held in Saskatoon. Through the Saskatoon Public Library system, Gateway also presented many “Theatre for Children” productions. it also offered an annuals series of theatre classes for children.
In Gateway’s final years, the ever-increasing competition for the time and commitment of its volunteers created many difficulties, but nevertheless Gateway strove to maintain a quality of all its productions. Attracting and keeping paying audiences created similar challenges; however, Gateway still managed to remain viable, always paying (primarily from self-generated revenue) all costs as well as providing a financial base for subsequential needs. Alas, a sudden and dramatic increase in the cost of all major overhead expenses drastically exceeded the organization’s ability to meet the projected costs and the decision to go into hiatus had to be made. Accordingly, in 2010, Gateway sold most of its physical assets, donated the remainder to other charitable organizations, and vacated its studio warehouse premises.
During hiatus, many alternatives were explored but as time passed it became even more apparent that a revival of the organization was unlikely. The focus therefore changed to completing the closure of perpetuate Gateway’s name and by doing so to commemorate Gateway’s history and all those who for more than 40 years made Gateway Players such a vibrant part of the Saskatoon Community.
And so a permanent endowment at Saskatoon Community Foundation was created. This will provide a two-fold legacy of ongoing support for amateur theatre groups and for local children’s programming. The Saskatoon Gateway Players Fund is a combination of a field of interest and designated fund that will provide, on an annual rotating basis, support children’s programming through the Saskatoon Public Library, and to volunteer-based charitable organizations for local theatrical productions.