Formed in 1978, Rising Tide began by writing and producing political plays that addressed controversial issues for Newfoundland and Labrador. In 1993, the Company created the New Founde Lande Trinity Pageant, an outdoor theatre experience that takes audiences on a journey through the lanes and roads of Trinity. The purpose was to bring to life the rich history of the area while showcasing the acting talent of local Newfoundlanders. In 1994, the company opened the Summer in the Bight theatre festival as a companion event to the pageant. Each year, the festival brings to the stage a new season of plays, dinner theatre and concerts that focus on the inspiring stories that make this province unique. The festival had traditionally run during the summer months, but in 2002 the company expanded the festival into the fall and re-named it "Seasons in the Bight". Since then, Rising Tide has focused on developing new and innovative works by writers such as Des Walsh, Berni Stapleton, Kevin Major, Ed Riche, Ben Pittman, Petrina Bromley, Ruth Lawrence and many more.
In 2000 the construction of the Rising Tide Arts Centre in Trinity established a new permanent home for the company and a focal point for the 20,000 annual visitors who are drawn to the unique blend of art, entertainment and history.
The Arts Centre is located on Green's Point where there has been an enterprise for at least 300 years since William Taverner first staked his plantation in 1700. Taverner's daughter married Benjamin Lester whose fishing rooms and shipyards covered half of Trinity. Lester also built the brick house across the way from the theatre. His nephew, John Bingley Garland, was the first speaker of the House of Assembly in Newfoundland. After the Garlands, a succession of other merchants followed, until the Ryans made Trinity the center of their Labrador trade. Rising Tide is proud to be a part of the recreation and preservation of that tradition.
A Member of the Order of Canada and a recipient of Newfoundland and Labrador Arts Council’s Artist of the Year honours, Donna Butt is the founder and Executive and Artistic Director of Rising Tide Theatre. Whether as actor, writer, director or producer, Donna works tirelessly to promote and maintain professional theatre in the province, especially in work that seeks to portray the culture and character of Newfoundland and Labrador.