Stratford director dies at 73
Hours after hearing about the death of Robin Phillips, Antoni Cimolino went home and opened a card he had been given years earlier from the venerated Stratford Theatre director complimenting him on his early production of Shakespeare's Love's Labour's Lost.
It was a full-circle moment for Cimolino, now himself artistic director of Ontario's premier classical theatre festival, and who credits Phillips with changing his life.
“When I was a kid I watched his production of Love's Labour's Lost and ... I left everything to go into the theatre,” said Cimolino. “I basically went into the theatre because of the beauty and the quality of what he put on stage.
Phillips died in his sleep at his home outside Stratford, Ont., on Saturday morning. He was 73. His hard work, talent and teaching are celebrated for attracting to the stage aficionados and newcomers alike, as well as shaping theatre across Canada and around the world.
“He had a way of making the classics really speak to the time we're in now; he had a way of making Shakespeare so clear and so compelling,” said Cimolino.
“He taught so many people across the country - actors, directors, designers - about the potential for real beauty in the classics.
“I think he probably brought a lot of people to theatres, and he made those who attended theatres believe in plays and stagecraft in a way they'd never believed it before.”
Phillips was born in England in 1942 and studied acting at the Bristol Old Vic.
He moved to Canada in the mid-1970s to work as artistic director at the Stratford Festival, a position he held until his resignation in 1980.