The Stratford Shakespeare Festival is deeply saddened to announce that company member Wayne Robson has passed away peacefully at his home.
After a long and varied career, Mr. Robson was to make his Stratford debut this season as Grampa inThe Grapes of Wrath.
“In the brief period since Wayne joined the Festival company, he very quickly became close to us all with his enthusiasm, good humour and enormous talent,” said General Director Antoni Cimolino. “He was generous in sharing stories from his past and from his vast experience in theatre across many countries dating back to the 1960s. He was immensely practical and yet a true imaginative child of the stage light.
“His work as Grampa had us both in stitches and in tears. Within The Grapes of Wrath, Grampa dies suddenly and his loss forever leaves a mark on the Joad family. So too does Wayne’s parting leave a gap in our Festival family.”
“I first met Wayne Robson more than 30 years ago,” said Artistic Director Des McAnuff, “when I offered him a part in A Mad World, My Masters at the St. Lawrence Centre in Toronto – which he had to turn down in order to accept a role in Robert Altman’s movie Popeye. I’d been looking for another opportunity to work with him ever since, so I was naturally delighted when he agreed to join our 2011 company.
“Now I am utterly heartbroken that he has been taken from us so prematurely, with such an important contribution still to make. Wayne was an outstanding artist who had a diverse and accomplished career on stage, in film and on television, and his loss will be heavily felt not only here in Stratford but across our country.”
The Festival will dedicate this season’s production of The Grapes of Wrath to the memory of Mr. Robson.
Mr. Robson appeared in over 100 theatre productions in Canada, 30 feature films and 120 television productions, including 12 seasons as Mike Hamar on The Red Green Show. Last November he played Morrie in Tuesdays with Morrie at the Sudbury Theatre Centre. He won Gemini Awards for his roles as Wally in And Then You Die and Christie Logan in The Diviners, a Dora Award for his portrayal of Stan in Walking the Tightrope at Theatre Direct and a Blizzard Award in Manitoba for his work in The Diviners. He also received Genie nominations for his roles as Shorty in The Grey Foxand Hank in Bye Bye Blues, and was named Actor of the Year by the Vancouver Sun.
In his 65th year, Mr. Robson leaves behind his children Ivy and Louis; their mother Lynn; and many, many friends and colleagues in theatre, film and television.
Funeral details will be announced at a later date.