From Everyone at Western Canada Theatre
David Ross, born Feb.10, 1945 in Nottingham England. Husband, father, grandfather, Artistic Producer of Western Canada Theatre and actor, David took his final bow Sunday March 29 at 10:40 pm – standard curtain time. He leaves behind his wife, Janet Michael, son Tyl van Toorn (Sarah Einarson), daughter Bodra Elia, daughter Amelia Ross (Lonnie Shaw) and grandchildren Tye, Madyx and Ana. Also his mother Dorothy Ross, brother Gordon Ross (Janis Jones) and sister Janet Ketchen (Richard Ketchen). Left behind also are a vast accumulation of friends, colleagues, fans, and associates. Janet would like to thank the dedicated staff of Marjorie Willoughby Hospice Home for their skill, courage and good humour. The family encourages people to donate generously to the Kamloops Hospice Association and the Food Bank.
David Ross has been a significant contributor to the Canadian theatre industry for 40 years. He was born in England in 1945, but claimed his Canadian citizenship, the citizenship of his father, early on and arrived in British Columbia, where he spent most of his growing up years. He graduated from the University of Victoria in 1964 and immediately went to work in the Northern B.C. community of Chetwynd. He continued his teaching career in St. Catherine's, Ontario and there found his true calling, working in school, community and semi-professional theatre. But it was not until he returned west to live in Penticton that he began his career in earnest, working for Giant's Head Theatre out of Summerland. There in the company of such theatre luminaries as George Ryga and Michael Cook, he and his long time friend and colleague, Ken Smedley, developed a passion for telling Canadian stories through the medium they loved most - theatre.
David then, took that passion to Newfoundland where he joined the Mummers' Troupe and became embroiled in collectively creating dozens of shows based on issues deeply concerned with Newfoundland life and culture - the most notable being THEY CLUB SEALS DON'T THEY - a sympathetic look at the Newfoundland sealing industry. THEY CLUB SEALS DON'T THEY enjoyed much success and toured all of Canada. In 1978 David co-founded Rising Tide Theatre, a company whose goal was to produce uniquely Canadian works, still focusing on Newfoundland society, but broadening the mandate somewhat from that of the Mummers' Troupe.
In 1983 he traversed the country once more to take over the position of Artistic Director for Western Canada Theatre. His passion for and dedication to grass roots Canadian culture was reflected immediately in his production BORIS KARLOFF SLEPT HERE - a lively and informative retrospective of Kamloop's history and culture, collectively created by the cast under his direction. He then went on to produce, along with national and international scripted work, a myriad of shows based on Canadian and B.C. culture. David has commissioned and/or produced a vast quantity of new Canadian work: among others,
• Numerous plays by Ian Wier
• THE TRIALS OF EDDIE HAYMOUR BY John Lazarus
• THE HONOURABLE MEMBER, SCANDAL: THE ROBERT SOMMERS STORY and KEEPER OF THE LIGHT by Jeff Pitcher
• CREATION by Peter Anderson
• CORNFLOWER BLUE by Kelly Rebar
• HUNTER OF PEACE by Sharon Stearns
• LARGER THAN LIFE: THE MUSICAL by Sharolyn G. Lee and Vanessa LeBourdais
• DREAMER'S QUEST by Vanessa Lebourdais and Ian Gschwind
• ERNESTINE SHUSWAP GETS HER TROUT by Tomson Highway
• WHERE THE BLOOD MIXES by Kevin Loring
These are just some of the premier productions. In addition are the too numerous to mention and very important, second productions that have been undertaken by David and his very able staff and crew - not to mention the superb theatrical classics that have served to enrich the lives of British Columbians.
His tenure at Western Canada Theatre has seen David build an incredible relationship with his community - serving on the Sagebrush Management Committee, the Kamloops Film Commission, addressing Rotary, playing baseball with Kamloops Community Living, raising funds for the Kamloops Food Bank and sponsoring and mentoring new young companies such as Project X, Saucy Fops and BC Living Arts Society.
But his sense of responsibility extends well beyond the confines of his home turf. He has fostered long and enduring relationships with theatre companies and arts agencies around the country. He has, for 30 years, been an active and contributing member of The Professional Association of Canadian Theatres. For two decades he has served on various juries and advisory committees for The Canada Council for the Arts. He served until 2008 on juries and advisory committees for The British Columbia Arts Council. He has, in the past twenty years, fostered a thriving relationship with British Columbia's community theatre parent organization, Theatre BC - hosting, on an annual basis, its New Play Festival as well as its Mainstage Festival. He has adjudicated numerous provincial and regional drama festivals and given workshops across the province in acting and directing. He has co-produced shows with, among others, The Vancouver Playhouse, The National Arts Centre, Richmond Gateway Theatre, The Arts Club, Belfry Theatre, Alberta Theatre Projects and Workshop West.
David's sense of responsibility for the growth of Canadian theatre and the health of Canadian culture has been paramount in his life. Consequently he has been recognized formally by arts and community organizations alike. He is an honorary lifetime member of The Professional Association of Canadian Theatres, and a recipient of Her Majesty’s Golden Jubilee Medal, the Governor General's Medal and the City of Kamloops Pioneer Award.
David's titles are many: producer, director, actor, designer, dramaturge, arts administrator and musician. But perhaps the title that most deserves mentioning is the one of mentor. One of David's great gifts is to have more faith in others than they sometimes have in them selves. Many up and coming theatre professionals see David as having been an inspiring force in their lives and have gone on to make careers in the theatre and related professions:
• Jeff Cummings, Production Manager of the Lorraine Kimsa Theatre for Young People
• Julia Mackey, Playwright
• Roger Lantz, Production Manager of the Maple Ridge Arts Centre
• Kevin Kerr, playwright and Governor-General Award winner
• Kim Collier, director, The Electric Company
• Tyl van Toorn - CEO of TNT Productions
David Ross is a shining example of how success in one’s field can be shared with future generations. There has never been a time when he has not looked forward and said, “How can I help? How can I support the theatre industry?” David has always considered working in the Arts a privilege. We have been privileged to be the recipients of his dedication and vision.
Any questions, concerns, or thoughts can be forwarded to Lori Marchand
firstname.lastname@example.org • 250-372-3216 ext 26
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