OTD: Robin Phillips appointed artistic director of Stratford Festival

On today’s date in 1975, Robin Phillips was appointed artistic director of the Stratford Festival, succeeding Jean Gascon, who served in that role from 1968-74.

Phillips spent five seasons directing many Stratford Festival productions and promoting new talent, including actors Maggie Smith, Richard Monette, Martha Henry and Brian Bedford.

“The British-born thespian taking the reins at Stratford was initially condemned by Canadian theatre purists who opposed the appointment of a foreigner to head the Canadian theatre institution,” reads a 2015 obituary published by the Canadian Press for Phillips, who died on July 25 of that year at the age of 73.

He is credited with having brought revered theatre talents to the Canadian stage, such as Maggie Smith, who made numerous appearances on stage during Phillips’s tenure.

He resigned from the post in 1980 and later became the artistic director at the Grand Theatre in London, Ont.

2002 STRATFORD FESTIVAL COIN

In 2002, the Royal Canadian Mint commemorated the Stratford Festival on a 50-cent silver coin as part of its “Canadian Festivals” series.

Struck out of .925 per cent silver, the coin has a weight of 9.3 grams, a diameter of 27.13 millimetres and a thickness of 2.08 millimetres. The coin’s reverse depicts two actors with the Stratford Theatre in the background.

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