Christopher Newton (1936-2021)

2000 Lifetime Artistic Achievement (Theatre)

Christopher Newton is one of Canada's most distinguished and versatile stage directors, artistic directors and actors. In the course of his artistic career, particularly during his twenty seasons as Artistic Director of the world-famous Shaw Festival in Niagara-on-the-Lake, he has inspired and advanced the careers of some of Canada's most celebrated theatre artists and made a profound contribution to Canadian theatre.

Born in England, Mr. Newton moved to Canada in 1961. He founded Theatre Calgary in 1968 and served as its Artistic Director until 1971, when he became Artistic Director of The Vancouver Playhouse Theatre Company. In 1979, Mr. Newton was appointed Artistic Director of the Shaw Festival, where he brought a new vitality and re-examined the works of many lesser-known playwrights. He also established a permanent acting ensemble that has won international recognition as one of North America's premiere acting companies.

Christopher Newtown is undeniably a man of vision, forging international creative alliances between the Shaw Festival and the Bolshoi Dramatic Theatre, the Stary Theatre in Poland, and the Abbey Theatre in Dublin. He is also a passionate advocate of public outreach programs and professional development for artists: in 1985 he established The Academy, a skills exchange forum for members of the Shaw Festival ensemble that has grown into a respected professional development programme.

In addition to his other talents, Mr. Newton has extensive television, radio and film credits, directs opera, and has written several produced plays. In 1998 he was honoured at a special tribute during the du Maurier World Stage Festival, attended by Canadian and international friends and colleagues who gathered to pay homage to his exceptional contribution to Canadian theatre.

Christopher Newton was named a Member of the Order of Canada in 1995, and has received the Chalmers Award for Artistic Direction and an honorary doctorate from Sir Wilfred Laurier University.