URGE was founded in 1992 by six women from different artistic disciplines: Marie-Josée Chartier (dancer, choreographer), Lori Freedman (clarinettist), Beverley Johnston (percussionist), Lisa Karrer (performance artist, vocalist), Fides Krucker (mezzo-soprano) and Linda C. Smith (composer). Interested in attempting a new form of music-theatre expression based in collective creation, the group began training together in each others' disciplines, and with vocal coach Richard Armstrong, and began to develop training exercises based in their variety of fields. Over the course of several workshops, and with the addition of the vision and outside eye and ear of Director Joanna McIntyre, the group created its first evening-length work "I Had An URGE To Write You", a work which was developed out of correspondence between the members of URGE, and which was presented in Toronto at the Helen Gardiner Phelan Theatre in August of 1993 (co-produced by Autumn Leaf Performance) and toured to Vancouver New Music in the fall of that same year.
In 1994, the group began to work towards a new piece, training with vocal teachers Richard Armstrong and Alejandra Nuñez, and continuing to develop the URGE method of training and creation. In January 1995, URGE created "Abstract Chains", a series of musical explorations built out of collective improvisation and experimentation. "Abstract Chains" was presented in two sold-out performances at the Music Gallery as part of Autumn Leaf Performance's Sonic Boom series.
In the Spring of 1995 Lori Freedman, Beverley Johnston and Lisa Karrer left the group in order to pursue solo careers. The three remaining members plus facilitating Director Joanna McIntyre decided to continue the work, and in Summer 1995 URGE invited several women from the Toronto music, theatre and performance communities to participate in a series of work sessions over a period of weeks. After only a few sessions it became apparent that a new group had formed (with new members Eve Egoyan, concert pianist; Katherine Duncanson, performance artist/vocalist; and Anita La Selva, actress/flamenco dancer) and the new URGE was ready to begin creation of a new work.
In December of 1995 the new URGE began an intensive work period, training in the various disciplines, and working with images, dreams and objects towards the new work. URGE also trained with Richard Armstrong and clown artist Sue Morrison over the spring of 1996. Whenever possible the group worked over the summer, and in November of 1996, the final creative period bore fruit with the third URGE creation "She Promised She'd Bake A Pie". This music-driven performance fantasy was presented in 4 performances in co-production with Autumn Leaf Performance and the du Maurier Theatre Centre, and seemed to delight and move all who came to see it.
In May of 1997, a documentary film was made about URGE , its process and the work "She Promised She'd Bake A Pie", aired October 29th on Adrienne Clarkson Presents, CBC TV.
In 1999, Urge toured their new piece TROUSSEAU-TRUE NATURE to Calgary, in co-production with One Yellow Rabbit's High Performance Rodeo. TROUSSEAU-TRUE NATURE then received it's Toronto premiere at the Du Maurier Theatre Centre. Due to its successful run in Toronto, the group created a new version of TROUSSEAU, with new scenes, for an extended run at Factory Theatre, in Toronto, June, 2002.