Wednesday, October 7, 2009

goodbye Douglas Campbell

This autumn has been too full of deaths of people of my friendship and acquaintance.
Today we say goodbye and farewell to an icon of Canadian theatre, Mr. Douglas Campbell. His image stares out at us at work from a variety of photos over the years, from arriving on the train with his wife and children to the cricket team's annual photo.
I first met Douglas in 1990 when I went out to Theatre New Brunswick to work on A Christmas Carol. Douglas was Scrooge, and what a Scrooge he was! What a voice and presence.
He was frightening in his gruffness and BAH humbugs then was utterly transformed as he was redeemed at the end, childlike, gleeful and mischievous.
I had many opportunities in the intervening years to work with him as he acted-and directed. Most notably to me, I worked on Oedipus Rex, a role he performed in 1954 (I believe) and then directed in 1997 with his son as the lead. Tanya Moiseiwitsch designed the original and at an advanced age returned to guide the design through the remount. I have some cherished Polaroids of Ben in costume as Oedipus with Douglas directing at the photo call, with Tanya in a wheelchair off to the side watching over it all.
That year,1997, he lived next door to us, my daughter was not yet a year old - she found him very amusing- and we got to know him a little more- a kind hearted soul who once even brought in our laundry while we were at work and rain was threatening.
A legend of Canadian theatre has gone and will be missed.

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