Blackbird Theatre is a professional theatre company dedicated to performing the classics.
A classic play is a great house in which many people may live. It is also a human fable that time does not invalidate. We draw our inspiration from the great playwrights of the ancient and modern worlds, and from the community in which we live. Our plays are chosen for the brilliance of their dramatic and comedic achievements and their relevance to contemporary life.
We invite you to join us in bringing the excitement, sophistication and profound pleasures of Blackbird’s classical theatre to Vancouver. If you wish to support Blackbird Theatre, or you would like to be kept informed about our activities, please contact us.
Actor/director Joy Coghill has left an indelible mark on Canadian theatre as an innovator and a consummate stage and screen performer, teacher and director. She was the first woman to become the artistic director of the Vancouver Playhouse, commissioning George Ryga’s legendary play The Ecstasy of Rita Joe. Later she headed the National Theatre School’s English Acting Section, and was the first recipient of the school’s first Gascon-Thomas Award. In 1987 Joy wrote and produced Song of this Place, a play with puppets based on the life of Emily Carr.
Breaking new ground in the 1950s, Joy co-founded (with Myra Benson) the first Canadian professional theatre for children (Holiday Theatre). In 1994 she came full circle, founding Western Gold, the first professional company of senior performers. In 1996 she played Lear in Jane Heyman’s Lear Project, and in 1998 she created The Alzheimer’s Project, which included Aaron Bushkowsky’s play Strangers Among Us, for Western Gold Theatre. She is co-founder (with Jane Heyman) of the Vancouver Performing Arts Lodge.
Joy is a member of the Order of Canada, and has received honorary degrees from Simon Fraser University and the University of British Columbia. She is the recipient of four Jessie Richardson Theatre Awards, the Gascon-Thomas Award (NTS), the Herbert Whittaker Critics’ Association Award and Lifetime Membership in the Canadian Actors’ Equity Association.
Remembering Antony Holland
Antony Holland has left the planet. My, how he will be missed. At his memorial service on September 13th his large extended family and many of his friends and colleagues paid him tribute with humour and tears, and a couple of great old wartime songs, "Lili Marlene" and "Bless Them All".
Antony was an Honorary Member of Blackbird Theatre, and performed in our first public offering, "Blackbird and Friends" in 2004. When I asked him if he would lend his good name to our venture his response was instant and enthusiastic. Antony loved new beginnings.
I first met him at UBC in 1963 when he was engaged to teach Karl Wylie and me (Hotspur and Hal) how use broadswords without killing each other. At one point I asked him how he wanted me to make a certain move. His answer ("Best way you can") is still a part of my practical directing vocabulary.
Antony loved an adventure. In the 1960's I started a small Equity summer stock company in Saskatoon. I was to play the role of Public in Philadelphia, Here I Come. I asked Antony if he would come out to Saskatchewan to play my Da. He said yes. I told him he might have to travel cheaply. He said no problem, he wanted to drive. He arrived in a Rolls Royce. He said someone gave it to him.
In 1982 I directed a television docudrama about Antony's Studio 58 production of Othello with Blu Mankuma in the title role. Antony had created a very economical staging of the play (no bells and whistles!) and instilled in his company a passion for clarity in performing the text. Antony's casting of Blu Mankuma was inspired, and the performance of the final scenes was completely engrossing for everyone in the studio, and remains vivid still, in my memory.
I saw what must have been among Antony Holland's last shows. He was ninety-four. He took a few steps onto the stage and, unperturbed by his own frailness, began to perform scenes from his biography, taking us with him on the journey. It was as natural as breathing.
Board of Directors
Errol Durbach, President
Anthony F. Ingram
Joy Coghill, CM
Antony Holland (dec)
Nini Baird, CM
Donna Wong Juliani
José Verstappen, CM