Life Before Stratford
The Memoirs of Amelia Hall
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By the time Amelia Hall died suddenly in December 1984 she had become one of Canada’s most respected and well-loved actresses. In this book she has left an incomparable record of her early years in the professional theatre in Canada. In particular, these memoirs chronicle the history of the Canadian Repertory Theatre of Ottawa, one of the first professional repertory theatres in Canada. Under Amelia Hall’s direction in the late forties and early fifties, the CRT gave a start to the careers of such notable Canadian actors as Christopher Plummer, Eric House, William Hutt, Ted Follows and William Shatner.
In these days of long-running corporate subsidized extravaganzas, it is instructive to read of the struggles and accomplishments of these pioneers of theatre in Canada, performing weekly repertory on a shoestring budget, with few facilities adn minuscule salaries. Yet it was these enthusiasts who provided the basis for the flowering of the Canadian theatrical scene in the 1960s and 1970s. It is appropriate that these memoirs should culminate in Amelia Hall’s portrayal of the Lady Anne in Richard III opposite Alec Guinness at the first Stratford Festival in 1953, making her the first Canadian and the first woman to speak on the Stratford stage.
This book is lavishly illustrated with photographs from Amelia Hall’s personal collection, now housed at the National Archives of Canada.
- Dundurn, January 1990
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