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Honorary degree citation - Richard Monette*

By: Nancy Helms, June 2003

Mr. Chancellor, I have the honour to present to you an actor and director of great critical acclaim, Richard Monette, currently artistic director of the Stratford Festival.

Richard Monette was born in Montreal and raised in a working-class family in the city's east end. At the age of 15, he saw his first show at Stratford, Shakespeare's As You Like It. In that moment, he discovered a passion for the stage, and an aspiration to be a Shakespearean actor, at Stratford. This destiny was realized within six years, in 1965, with roles in Henry IV and Julius Caesar-while, in fact, he majored in English at Loyola College, one of Concordia University's founding institutions. He returned to Stratford for the next two summers, acquiring increasingly prominent roles. In 1967, he earned his undergraduate degree from Loyola, with honours.

Quand il obtient son diplôme, à l'âge de 23 ans, Richard Monette compte déjà à son actif une trentaine de rôles au théâtre et une bonne demi-douzaine au cinéma et à la télévision. Il part s'installer à Londres où il interprète, en 1970, un proviseur dans la fameuse comédie musicale Oh! Calcutta de Kenneth Tynan. On le verra par la suite sur de nombreuses scènes britanniques comme le Welsh National Theatre, le mondialement célèbre Regent's Park Theatre, l'Open Space Theatre et le Duchess Theatre.

Upon graduation, at the age of 23, with more than two dozen theatrical performances, including Broadway, and half a dozen film and television performances to his credit, Richard Monette took his budding career to London, England. In 1970, he appeared as a principal in the notorious musical production of Kenneth Tynan's Oh! Calcutta. While in London, he performed with a number of theatres, including the Welsh National Theatre, the world-class Regent's Park Theatre, Open Space Theatre, and Duchess Theatre.

Mr. Monette returned to Canada in 1972. In short time, he came to be regarded as one of the country's great actors. Following a year with Toronto's St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts, he starred in the anglophone premiere of Michel Tremblay's groundbreaking play Hosanna, playing the title role of the intense and complicated misfit farm boy who runs away to Montreal. At the same time, he revived his theatrical ties to the Stratford Festival. His unforgettable performance in the 1978 one-man show Judgement, was universally praised. It is a modern tragedy about a Soviet prisoner of war who, during imprisonment, cannibalizes fellow inmates to survive. Over the course of 31 seasons at Stratford, he has played more than 40 roles, including leads in Henry V, Romeo and Juliet, The Tempest, Much Ado about Nothing, and Filumena.

Tout en gagnant la faveur du public comme acteur, Richard Monette fait ses débuts de metteur en scène à Stratford avec Come and Go de Samuel Beckett, présenté en 1978. En 1988, il monte The Taming of the Shrew. Depuis, le milieu du théâtre et celui de la critique ne cessent d'applaudir son génie artistique. Il a mis en scène plus d'une quarantaine de productions, non seulement à Stratford, mais aussi pour le Young People's Theatre, le Tarragon Theatre, le Edmonton's Citadel Theatre, la Compagnie d'opéra canadienne et le CBC's Glenn Gould Studio.

While winning audiences with his onstage performances, Richard Monette also made his directorial debut at Stratford, with Samuel Beckett's Come and Go, in 1978. In 1988, he staged The Taming of the Shrew, and soon his artistic genius was regularly seen and appreciated by both the theatrical and critical communities. He has directed more than 40 productions, for Stratford as well as the Young People's Theatre, Tarragon Theatre, Edmonton's Citadel Theatre, the Canadian Opera Company, and CBC's Glenn Gould Studio.

Mr. Monette became Stratford's artistic director designate in 1992, and was officially appointed in 1994, a position he continues to hold today. Under his leadership, the Stratford Festival has evolved and thrives as a glorious cultural enterprise. In January 1998, Mr. Monette was named a member of the Order of Canada, and in 2002, he was awarded the Queen's Golden Jubilee Medal. An unparalleled talent in Canadian theatre, Mr. Monette has long exemplified the artistic and innovative soul of Stratford.

Mr. Chancellor, on behalf of Senate and the Board of Governors, it is my privilege and an honour to present to you, Richard Monette, so that you may confer upon him the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa.

* deceased

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