Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Don Fleckser to receive 2010 Maggie Bassett Award

Theatre Ontario is thrilled to announce that the 2010 Maggie Bassett Award shall be presented to Don Fleckser. The award, which recognizes a sustained and significant contribution to the development of theatre in Ontario, is a worthy honour for a man whose work in theatre has had an impact far beyond London and Ontario.

For over sixty years, Don Fleckser has been involved in theatre. As an actor he has appeared in numerous community and professional productions, beginning with his role as Badger in Toad of Toad Hall at London Little Theatre in 1953. Professional acting credits include roles at The Huron Country Playhouse, The Port Stanley Festival Theatre, The Victoria Playhouse Petrolia and appearances on the television series Due South.

The number of his directorial credits is now approaching three hundred. These include community theatre productions throughout south-western Ontario, independent theatre companies, shows with children and youth, fund raising revues for charitable organizations and work with choirs and symphony orchestras. Everyone from this region with a passion for theatre has felt the magic of Don’s touch. Don’s guidance and dedication to his art leaves a permanent mark whether working with the most recent grade eight graduates of St. Mary Choir School or acclaimed professionals including Victor Garber and Louise Pitre.

His roles in education include teacher at both the elementary and secondary level, department head, consultant, Field Officer in Dramatic and Theatre Arts for the Ministry of Education and lecturer in Theatre Arts at the Faculty of Education, University of Western Ontario.

As an educator he was significantly involved in writing Ministry Arts Policy and in setting up Theatre Arts programmes. When Celia Franca was Artistic Director of The National Ballet of Canada she had Don develop the educational programming used by the company.

In discussing this year's recipient, Leonard McHardy, Chair of the Maggie Bassett Award Jury, recalled the great lady herself, Maggie Bassett had once referred to Don as "a force", and after considering the excellent nomination, and very persuasive testimonials made on his behalf, the members of the jury can understand why. In a unanimous decision, the jury is delighted to honour Don Fleckser with this year's ‘Maggie’ in recognition of his outstanding contribution to theatre in Ontario.

The award will be presented to Don on May 23rd in London at the awards brunch for the 2010 Theatre Ontario Festival.

When notified on this award Fleckser stated, "I can think of nothing more wonderful than to win an award bearing the name of Maggie Bassett. On several precious occasions she encouraged and delighted in my projects in the theatre. She was thrilled to know that thousands of youngsters were experiencing the joy of theatre and make believe. I am honoured to receive this recognition from so many of my peers.”

The Maggie Bassett Award is presented to an individual who, over a number of years, has made a sustained and significant contribution to the development of theatre in Ontario. As Theatre Ontario's first employee, the late Maggie Bassett created a solid foundation for the organization by launching the Professional Theatre Training Program, Summer Courses, and the newsletter. Her love for the arts held no barriers between community, professional or educational theatre. Maggie was also a fine director and actress and performed at Tarragon Theatre, Huron County Playhouse, and at the Alumnae Theatre. For many years, she attended all regional festivals. She was known for her warmth, humour, sparkle and the sincere encouragement she bestowed on those around her. This award is for dedication to theatre beyond the call of duty. The award is a stunning bronze statuette entitled "COURAGE", designed by Rita Tuckett and sculpted by Ronald Thom.

Past recipients of the award are Ken Watts, Elsie Thomson, Jean Roberts, Herbert Whittaker, Heather McCallum, Herman Voaden, Dennis Sweeting, Jack Medhurst, Jack Blacklock, Sandy Black, Patricia Beharriell, Wilf Pegg, Virginia Reh, Lib Spry, Wayne Fairhead, Richard Howard, Dusty Miller, Kay McKie, Beth McMaster, Sandra Tulloch, Jeff Burke, James Alexander, Ron Cameron-Lewis, Angela Rebeiro, Kim Renders, Yvette Nolan and Alex Mustakas.

For more information about the Maggie Bassett Award, please visit the Theatre Ontario website.

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