CM Archive
CM Archive Book Review line

Edited by Diane Mew

Toronto, Dundurn Press, 1989. 264pp, paper, $14.95
ISBN 1-55002-062-5. CIP

Grades 9 and up/Ages 14 and up
Reviewed by Louise Dick.

Volume 18 Number 3
1990 May

From Yorkshire childhood to the stage at Stratford, Ontario, Hall's memoirs vividly re-create one person's devotion to theatre and the development of Canadian professional theatre. Editor Mew had known Hall since 1975 and after Hall's death in 1984 edited the unrevised manuscript. Photo illustrations are from Hall's personal collection, now in the National Archives. There is an adequate index.

Any young person or adult interested in theatre would enjoy these lively, captivating reminiscences. Hall's constant and courageous effort to make a life in theatre is also the story of the early struggles of Canadian professional theatre, especially the Canadian Repertory Theatre of Ottawa. Before Hall opened Stratford's first season in 1953 as Lady Anne in Richard III opposite Alec Guiness, there were happy and sad years of learning and striving in Hamilton, Montreal and Ottawa.

Hall's account is breezy and informal, anecdotal but with a strong unity of purpose. Her deft characterizations ("the plump giggler married the grey wet slug") are a joy as are her descriptions of life in a Hamilton boarding house and the strain of producing a new play each week for the Canadian Repertory Theatre. We meet Christopher Plummer, William Shatner, William Hutt and others with whom Hall worked in Ottawa. Persistence, wit, humanity, confidence are evident in Hall's own character.

As biography, theatre history, mother-daughter friendship, courageous pursuit of career, Life Before Stratford offers pleasure and inspiration.

Louise Dick, Toronto, Ont.
line indexes


1971-1979 | 1980-1985 | 1986-1990 | 1991-1995


The materials in this archive are copyright © The Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission Copyright information for reviewers

Young Canada Works