|Full Name Michael Bawtree|
Plays The Last of the Tsars
Residence Wolfville, Canada
Name Michael Bawtree
|Born August 25, 1937 (age 78) (1937-08-25) Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia|
Occupation Actor, Director, Author, Educator
Home town Oxford, Oxfordshire, England
Books The new singing theatre, Joe Howe to the Rescue
Michael bawtree a reminiscence 1945
Michael Bawtree (born 25 August 1937) is a Canadian actor, director, author and educator.
- Michael bawtree a reminiscence 1945
- Childhood and education
- Early career in Canada
- Later career
- Personal life
- Selected productions
- Work for television
Childhood and education
Bawtree was born in Australia, brought up in England and educated at Radley College. After two years of National Service (commissioned into the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry and serving in Cyprus), he read English Language and Literature at Worcester College, Oxford, leaving with a B.A. in 1961 (M.A. 1963).
Early career in Canada
Bawtree emigrated to Canada in 1962, and acted on stage and television in Toronto for three years. He also taught for one year at Victoria College, University of Toronto, and working as dramaturge at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival, Stratford, Ontario, for the 1964 season, under Michael Langham. After serving as the Toronto Telegram's book critic for six months in 1965, he resigned to take up a position at the newly formed Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, British Columbia, as Resident in Theatre. There, he was responsible for founding the university's theatre program. He held the position for four years, resigning in 1969.
In 1966 he returned to the Stratford Festival, being commissioned to write a play for the company. His The Last of the Tsars premiered at the Avon Theatre, Stratford, in July 1966, and was directed by Michael Langham and starred William Hutt, Amelia Hall and Tony van Bridge. In 1967, on receiving a Canada Council travel and study bursary, he went to live for eight months in Cali, Colombia, where he learned Spanish, wrote poetry and worked at the Teatro Experimental di Cali under its artistic director Enrique Buenaventura.
Returning to Ontario in 1969, Bawtree assisted Michael Langham on his 1970 production of The School for Scandal, and was then appointed as Director of English Theatre at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa. He resigned the next year after Jean Gascon offered him the post of Literary Manager and Assistant to the Director at the Stratford Festival. That year he first directed at the Shaw Festival, Niagara-on-the-Lake. At Stratford, he also became director of Stratford's Third Stage, where he initiated four seasons of theatre and music theatre productions, including Patria II: Requiems for a Party Girl by R. Murray Schafer (1971), starring Phyllis Mailing, The Red Convertible by Buenaventura, and The Medium of Menotti (1974), starring Maureen Forrester. In 1972 he directed Oliver Goldsmith's She Stoops To Conquer on the Stratford Festival's main stage; it was revived for the 1973 season, televised by CBC in 1974, and broadcast in 1975.
Bawtree was appointed an Associate Director of the Festival in 1973, but resigned from Stratford in 1974. He lived in New York for a year, directing two off-Broadway productions, and directing also in Cincinnati, Westport, and the Guthrie Theatre, Minneapolis. For the Guthrie he also wrote a television adaptation of The School for Scandal, directed by Michael Langham for PBS-TV.
In 1975, back in Toronto, he founded COMUS Music Theatre with Maureen Forrester. For COMUS he co-wrote and directed Harry's Back In Town in 1976, and directed The Medium in 1978. He also directed The Beggar's Opera for the Guelph Spring Festival in 1976. In 1978 he became Director of the Banff School of Fine Arts summer musical theatre training program, which he ran until 1983. In 1979 he moved to Banff to become Arts Planner and Director of Inter Arts for the newly established Winter Cycle of arts programs.
In 1981 he founded the Music Theatre Studio Ensemble at Banff, a training program for actors, singer, designers, writers and composers. The program achieved international notice, and he was made a member of the International Theatre Institute's Music Theatre Committee, whose meetings and seminars took him over the next years to the USSR, France, Hungary, Norway, Sweden, Czechoslovakia, Cuba, East Germany and Turkey.
Bawtree resigned from the Banff School – by now renamed The Banff Centre – in 1986, and for three years worked freelance, while also completing his book on music theatre, The New Singing Theatre.
In 1988 he was invited to Finland to direct the Finnish language premiere of Oh! What a Lovely War [Sota On Mahtava!], in Tampere. This was the first of many visits to Finland, where over the next years he directed student-professional productions, including Working in Tampere and Albert Herring at the Sibelius Academy. He also co-directed two music theatre training programs, and in 1992 directed 70, Girls, 70 (Kevättä Rinnassa) at Tampereenteatteri. He was also one of the founders of Sumute, a Finnish music theatre company.
In 1989 he was commissioned to write a one-woman play for Quebec actor and chanteuse Monique Leyrac. The play, Sarah Bernhardt and the Beast, premiered in Montreal, and toured in English and French through Ontario and Quebec 1989-90.
In 1990 he was invited to be Director of Drama at Acadia University, Wolfville, Nova Scotia, a position he held until his retirement in 2003, teaching acting and directing many student productions of classics, including plays of Shakespeare, Chekhov and Brecht.
In 1994 he founded the Atlantic Theatre Festival, overseeing the conversion of Acadia University's disused ice rink into a 500-seat thrust stage theatre. With major support from Christopher Plummer, the festival opened in 1995, and Bawtree served as its artistic director for the first four years. He parted company with the festival in 1998.
In 2003 he founded the Joseph Howe Initiative, to celebrate in 2004 the 200th birthday of Joseph Howe, Nova Scotia's greatest son. He performed as Joseph Howe on several occasions in 2004, including in a version of Howe's famous defence against a charge of seditious libel in 1835, and in a CBC-TV documentary on Howe. He also wrote a young adult's novel, Joe Howe to the Rescue, to introduce Howe to the young generation. In 2008 he appeared as Joseph Howe on many occasions for Democracy250, an initiative set up by the Province of Nova Scotia to celebrate the birth of Canadian democracy in Nova Scotia in 1758. These performances took him all over Nova Scotia, as well as to Ottawa, Boston and London UK.
In recent years he has toured in Nova Scotia and the UK with readings of A Christmas Carol and Three Men In A Boat, and in the UK with his own one-man show The Pegasus Bridge Show, raising money for charity.
From 1967 Bawtree lived with his partner the voice and speech teacher Colin Bernhardt, who died in 2012.
Bawtree lives in Wolfville, Nova Scotia, where he is currently writing his memoirs.
In addition to these professional productions, Bawtree has directed over thirty productions with students and young professionals, at Simon Fraser University, The Banff Centre, Acadia University and in Finland.