The Phoenix Theatre Society was founded in 1981 under artistic director Keith Digby. Digby had been director of the recently bankrupt Theatre 3, and the legend is that Phoenix Theatre "rose from the ashes" of that company. Phoenix, performing its first season in the SUB Theatre on the University of Alberta campus, announced a five-point program: Contemporary works of a more challenging, less conservative variety than found in most regional theatres; premieres and new Canadian plays; workshop productions of upcoming plays; new looks at classics; and a Christmas family show. Digby resigned in early in 1982 and was succeeded by Bob Baker, a U. of A. Drama graduate. Baker enhanced the contemporary focus by mounting the latest works of Sam Shepard, David Mamet and others, and in these years Phoenix became well loved for its inventive fundraising. The 1982-1983 season saw Phoenix move to the John L. Haar theatre at Grant MacEwan Community College. In 1983-1984, the Phoenix moved to Walter Kaasa Theatre in Northern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium, a space it would occupy for the next twelve years. In 1983-1984, the Phoenix also moved its offices and rehearsal spaces to downtown Edmonton and initiated its Phoenix Downtown program of new and experimental works. Jim Guedo succeeded Baker in 1987 and the emphasis shifted slightly to emphasize "contemporary controversial" theatre. In 1995, Guedo resigned as artistic director, the Phoenix had won 35 Sterling Awards but was $90 000 in debt, and new director John Cooper attempted to rejuvenate Phoenix with a production of Angels in America, Part 1: The Millenium Approaches. However, though the production was a success, the Phoenix slipped further into debt and the Board decided to close down operations.