Richard Monette was a Canadian theatre legend. He was the director of the Stratford Festival and gifted actor.
Claim to Fame: Theatre - Stratford Festival
Date of birth: June 19 1944 (Montreal, Quebec)
Date of death: September 10 2008 (London, Ontario)
Richard Monette, the longest-serving artistic director of the Stratford Festival, has died at the age of 64.
He had been suffering from vascular disease, Antoni Cimolino, Stratford's general director told CBC News, and was going into hospital for tests Tuesday evening when he suffered a pulmonary embolism.
Cimolino described Monette's death as a terrible loss for Canadian theatre. "He had a Canadian voice at a time when we were still finding our voice as a nation," he said.
As a former actor, Cimolino said he was "blessed" to be directed by Monette.
"I always felt that actors were at their best under Monette's direction," he added. "He allowed them to speak with their own voices."
Although Monette was a larger-than-life theatrical personality, he was also a very honest, real person, Cimolino said.
Monette retired from the festival in August 2007 after 14 seasons that included the addition of a fourth theatre, an acting school and a financially profitable operation.
He was born in Montreal on June 19, 1944, and graduated from Concordia University in that city.
He received his first theatrical notice at an inter-varsity drama competition at Hart House Theatre in Toronto in 1959, where he took top acting honours.
He went to Stratford in 1965 where he played small roles. He performed in Rolf Hochhuth's Soldiers at the Royal Alexandra Theatre in Toronto and the production took him to Broadway.
At the age of 23, he moved to London, appearing in the notorious British production of Oh Calcutta.
On his return to Canada, Monette played in the anglophone production of Michel Tremblay's Hosanna.
He played more than 40 roles at Stratford, and in 1988, he directed his first play at Stratford, The Taming of the Shrew.
He was appointed the company's artistic director-designate in 1992 and was officially named to the post in 1994.
He told CBC News last year that he had done everything he had set out to do at Stratford, now known as the Stratford Shakespeare Festival.
"There are always some regrets , but basically I did what I wanted to do. And I've been at it a long time — my back was giving out, I was tired. This is a very difficult job. Very. It's 24-7," he said.
Looking back on his 14 seasons, he said the accomplishment he was most proud of was establishing Stratford's Birmingham Conservatory of Classical Theatre Training, which trains new actors and directors.
"They're the future of this place as much as the audience."
From CBC web site.