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Michael Blakemore

Michael Blakemore

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Also Known As: Michael Howell Blakemore Died:
Born: June 18, 1928 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Australia Profession: director, screenwriter, actor, author

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Trained for the stage at London's Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, Australian-born Michael Blakemore acted without distinction through the 1950s, appearing with various British repertory companies, before finding his true calling as a director during the 60s. Near the end of his run as Artistic Director at Glasgow's Citizens' Theatre, he enjoyed a triumph at the helm of Peter Nichols' "A Day in the Life of Joe Egg" (1967) and accompanied the play on its moves to London that year and Broadway in 1968, earning his first Tony nomination for directing. After helming, scripting and appearing as himself in the 16mm documentary "A Personal History of the Australian Surf" (1971), he served as Associate Director under Laurence Olivier at the National Theatre, directing Olivier in a revival of "Long Day's Journey Into Night" (1971), among the shows he helmed there. He also co-adapted (with Peter Wood) the 1973 ABC-TV version of "Long Day's Journey Into Night", starring Olivier.

Trained for the stage at London's Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, Australian-born Michael Blakemore acted without distinction through the 1950s, appearing with various British repertory companies, before finding his true calling as a director during the 60s. Near the end of his run as Artistic Director at Glasgow's Citizens' Theatre, he enjoyed a triumph at the helm of Peter Nichols' "A Day in the Life of Joe Egg" (1967) and accompanied the play on its moves to London that year and Broadway in 1968, earning his first Tony nomination for directing. After helming, scripting and appearing as himself in the 16mm documentary "A Personal History of the Australian Surf" (1971), he served as Associate Director under Laurence Olivier at the National Theatre, directing Olivier in a revival of "Long Day's Journey Into Night" (1971), among the shows he helmed there. He also co-adapted (with Peter Wood) the 1973 ABC-TV version of "Long Day's Journey Into Night", starring Olivier.

Filmographyclose complete filmography

DIRECTOR:

1.
  Country Life (1994) Director
2.
  Privates on Parade (1983) Director
4.
  Old Reliable, The (1988) Director

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 Country Life (1994) Alexander Voysey
3.
 Having a Wild Weekend (1965) Officer
4.
 Broadway '97: Launching the Tonys (1997) Interviewee
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

1951:
Stage debut as the doctor in "The Barrets of Wimpole Street" at Theatre Royale, Huddersfield, England
1952:
Acted with repertory groups, including Birmingham Repertory Theatre amd Shakespeare Memorial Theatre
1965:
Appeared as an officer in John Boorman's feature directing debut, "Having a Wild Weekend", scripted by Peter Nichols
:
Served as Artistic Director of Citizens' Theatre in Glasgow, Scotland
1968:
Earned first Tony nomination as Director of a Play for Nichols' "A Day in the Life of Joe Egg", starring Albert Finney
1971:
Directed, scripted and appeared as himself in 16mm documentary "A Personal History of the Australian Surf"
:
Was Associate Director under Laurence Olivier at The National Theatre; directed Olivier in revival of "Long Day's Journey Into Night" (1971); also directed productions of "Macbeth" (1972) and "The Cherry Orchard" (1973), among others
1973:
Co-adapted (with Peter Wood) "Long Day's Journey Into Night" for ABC TV version starring Olivier
1973:
Helmed West End revival of Noel Coward's "Design for Living", starring Vanessa Redgrave
1974:
Directed David Hare's first play in London's West End, "Knuckle"
1977:
Helmed Royal Shakespeare Company production of Nichols' "Privates on Parade"; also directed West End production of "Candida", starring Deborah Kerr
1980:
Directed successful West End production of Michael Frayn's "Make and Break"
1982:
Feature debut as director, "Privates on Parade", starring John Cleese and Denis Quilley
1984:
Received Tony nomination as Director of a Play for Michael Frayn's backstage farce "Noises Off"
1984:
Reunited with Frayn on the West End production of Frayn's "Benefactors"; play moved to Broadway in 1985
1987:
First staged Peter Shaffer's "Lettuce and Lovage", starring Maggie Smith and Margaret Tyzack in the West End
1988:
Helmed "The Old Reliable", based on the story by P G Wodehouse, for "Great Performances" (PBS)
1989:
Directed the Larry Gelbart-Cy Coleman-David Zippel musical "City of Angels", earning a Tony nomination for Director of a Musical
1990:
Picked up another Tony nod as director of Broadway version of "Lettuce and Loveage"
1994:
Scripted, helmed and acted in the feature "Country Life", an Australian spin on Anton Chekhov's "Uncle Vanya"; starring Sam Neill
1995:
Directed Off-Broadway production of "Death Defying Acts", three one-act plays by Woody Allen, David Mamet and Elaine May
1997:
Reteamed with Coleman for "The Life", picking up his fifth Tony nomination for directing
1999:
Helmed Broadway revival of "Kiss Me, Kate"; received Tony nomination as Director of a Musical
:
Directed London (first at the National and later in the West End) and Broadway productions of Frayn's "Copenhagen"; garnered Tony nomination for Director of a Play; sixth Frayn play directed
2002:
Helmed the London production "Life After George", starring Stephen Dillane
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

Kings School, Sydney University: -
Royal Academy of Dramatic Art: - 1950 - 1952

Notes

Blakemore has directed productions of the opera "Tosca" for the Welsh National Opera and for the Houston Grand Opera.

"The director's first job is to get inside the writer's head, not to impose an interpretation on the play. He will impose an interpretation anyway, because of the person he is, but his first job is to try to realize what's on the page. A very great director with whom I worked when I was an actor was Tyrone Guthrie, who was rather autocratic. He had two definitions of a director: One was that a director is an ideal audience of one. The other was that a director is the audiences's representative." --Michael Blakemore to InTheater, December 6, 1999

About changing the book for the revival of "Kiss Me, Kate": "At the beginning, we were talking about fairly radical revisions on the book, and I was wary about that. I felt that books do get a little old-fashioned, but there's something in the book, if it's written at the same time as the music, that holds together; it's of a piece. I think you fiddle with it at your peril. There was one area where I thought maybe we could fiddle with it a bit in the second act, which I won't divulge. It's a surprise. It's still essentially the book that [Sam and Bella Spewack] wrote, with one character changed slightly--Harrison Howell, the elderly senator who is Lilli's proposed fiance." --Blakemore quoted in InTheater, December 6, 1999

"I should say at once that my sole scientific qualification for doing this play is that I am a failed medical student. I knew nothing about quantum mechanics or any of the subject matter of 'Copenhagen', but I found it absolutely thrilling to read. Michael Frayn's tendency is to do exactly what Neils Bohr was famous for, which is to take the physics and look for moral and philosophical implications that the science suggests.

"But there is a fascinating aspect of the show that I don't think we realized when we set out to do it: one of the reasons it works with an audience is that the actual act of going to the theater and seeing a play supports a lot of the propositions in 'Copenhagen'.

"Putting on a play is a sort of scientific experiment. You go into a rehearsal room, which is sort of an atom, and then a lot of these very busy particles, the actors, do their work and circle around the nucleus of a good text. And then, when you think you're ready to be seen, you sell tickets to a lot of photons, that is, an audience, who will shine the light of attention on what you've been up to.

"Then something very strange happens: the thing that you rehearsed in the rehearsal room and that you have seen a hundred times is put on stage and a thousand pair of eyes hit it and alter it. The energy an audience brings to it, the energy of their laughter and their rapt attention, changes what is there. This is something that 'Copenhagen', in fact, deals with." --from Blakemore's comments at the symposium, "Creating Copenhagen", at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, excerpted in The New York Times, April 10, 2000

Companions close complete companion listing

wife:
Shirley Bush. Married in 1960; divorced; mother of Conrad.
wife:
Tanya McCallin. Set designer. Married in 1986; mother of Beatrice and Clementine.

Family close complete family listing

father:
Conrad Howell Blakemore. Eye surgeon.
mother:
Una Mary Blakemore.
son:
Conrad Blakemore. Mother, Shirley Bush.
daughter:
Beatrice Blakemore. Mother, Tanya McCallin.
daughter:
Clementine Blakemore. Mother, Tanya McCallin.
VIEW COMPLETE FAMILY LISTING

Bibliography close complete biography

"Next Season" Simon & Schuster

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