Haynes, Elizabeth Sterling

Elizabeth Sterling Haynes (née Elizabeth Sterling), director, community and educational drama specialist (b at Seaham Harbour, England 7 December 1897; d at Toronto 26 April 1957). Haynes, the eldest child of an English Methodist minister, graduated with a BA from the University of Toronto in 1920, and acted under Roy Mitchell in the inaugural season of HART HOUSE Theatre (1919-20). Haynes was strongly influenced by Mitchell's dedication to the development of a serious indigenous art theatre in Canada and his charismatic approach to directing and teaching. She also shared his ability to effectively synthesize and adapt a broad range of national and international theatrical trends to a specific milieu- in her case, the developing theatre scene of Western Canada and to a lesser extent, Atlantic Canada.

Moving to Edmonton in 1922 with her dentist husband, Haynes first established herself as a talented actor and director, serving most notably as a guest director for the University of Alberta Dramatic Society (1923-24, 1927-32), a founding member of the Alberta Drama League (1929), and the first artistic director of the Edmonton LITTLE THEATRE (1929-32). In 1932 she was appointed the first provincial drama specialist for the University of Alberta Department of Extension, soon acquiring the reputation of an innovative drama educator. Between 1932 and 1937, she travelled extensively across Alberta, adjudicating festivals, teaching workshops, delivering lectures and advising on school and community productions.

She reached out to others through radio broadcasts over CKUA and through pamphlets, books and plays distributed through the Extension library. Her ideas on theatre and education were further disseminated in Western Canada through the Banff School of Fine Arts (seeBANFF CENTRE FOR CONTINUING EDUCATION), which she co-founded with E.A. CORBETT in 1933, and into Eastern Canada when she was recruited by the New Brunswick Department of Education in 1937-38 to supervise the drama and literature in their new education program.

Haynes strongly supported the Edmonton theatre scene of the 1940s and 50s - and the newly established University of Alberta Dept of Drama in particular - but her deteriorating health increasingly curtailed her activities, and she died at the age of 59 in 1957 shortly after returning to Ontario. Since 1988, Edmonton has paid tribute to her three decades of pioneering work in the Alberta theatre by naming their annual theatre awards "the Sterlings" in her honour.