Robin Phillips

Robin Phillips

Robin Phillips in 1973
Born (1940-02-28)28 February 1940
Haslemere, Surrey, England, United Kingdom
Died 25 July 2015(2015-07-25) (aged 75)
near Stratford, Ontario, Canada
Residence Stratford, Ontario, Canada
Occupation Stage actor; film and stage director
Years active 1962–1972 (as an actor)
Partner(s) Joe Mandel (1971–2015; his death)

Robin Phillips (28 February 1940 – 25 July 2015) was an English actor and film director.

He was born in Haslemere, Surrey in 1940[1][2] to Ellen Anne (née Barfoot) and James William Phillips.[3] He trained at the Bristol Old Vic, where a contemporary was Patrick Stewart, and worked as an actor and director for many years in the United Kingdom, finishing as artistic director at the Greenwich Theatre from 1973–75.

He was hired as artistic director at the Stratford Festival in Canada in 1975, where he spent six seasons directing many productions and cultivating new talent. Such actors as Maggie Smith, Richard Monette, Martha Henry, and Brian Bedford, among others, were prominently featured during his tenure, and many of his Shakespearean, classical, and contemporary productions won widespread acclaim.[4][5][6] When he resigned from Stratford during the 1980 season, exhaustion was cited as the primary reason for his departure.[7] He would later become artistic director at the Grand Theatre in London, Ontario and return to Stratford to direct the Young Company in 1987–88. He was also director general at the Citadel Theatre in Edmonton from 1990–95.

He directed a musical version of Jekyll & Hyde (1997) on Broadway (winning the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Set Design for his contribution to the scenic design); Long Day's Journey into Night in London's West End in 2000; and a stage version of Larry's Party at Canadian Stage and the National Arts Centre in 2001.

In 2010, Phillips received the Governor General's Performing Arts Award for Lifetime Artistic Achievement, Canada's highest honour in the performing arts.[8]

Phillips died in his sleep on 25 July 2015 after a prolonged illness.[9][2] He was survived by a younger sister, Hilary, and by his partner, Joe Mandel, who he first met in 1962 but who became his partner in 1971.[10]

Selected Film & TV credits



  1. Morrow, Martin (July 31, 2015). "Canadian stage greats have actor, director Robin Phillips to thank". The Globe and Mail. (not 1942, as most biographies indicate). According to Joe Mandel, Mr. Phillips’s long-time partner, the incorrect date was listed on his first British passport and remained on the records thereafter.
  2. 1 2 Weber, Bruce (August 2, 2015). "Robin Phillips, Director, Dies at 75; Revitalized Canada's Stratford Festival". The New York Times.
  3. Robin Phillips profile at
  4. Canadian Theatre Encyclopedia
  5. Maurice Good. "Every inch a Lear": a rehearsal journal of "King Lear" with Peter Ustinov and the Stratford Festival Company, directed by Robin Phillips. Sono Nis Press, 1982. ISBN 978-0-919203-26-6
  6. "Stratford Gold: Robin Phillips revitalizes Stratford". CBC Digital Archives. 2002. Retrieved 21 August 2013. Includes 24min video.
  7. Martin Knelman, A Stratford Tempest. Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1982, 240 p. ISBN 978-0-7710-4542-4
  8. "Robin Phillips biography". Governor General's Performing Arts Awards Foundation. Retrieved 11 February 2015.
  9. "Robin Phillips, former head of Stratford Festival, dead at 73". CBC News. 26 July 2015. Retrieved 26 July 2015.
  10. Obituary for Robin Phillips in The Guardian - 30 July 2015
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