Mitchell, Victor

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Mitchell, Victor

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Victor Edward Mitchell was born January 29, 1929 in Vancouver B.C. He graduated from Victoria High School in 1947 and received his B.A. from the University of British Columbia in 1950. After completing a Professional Teaching Certificate he taught drama in Ladner and served two years as the High School principal in Slocan. He moved to England for a short time to study theatre at the London Guildhall School of Music and Drama and was a tutor at Westminster City School in 1959. Mitchell received a Canada Council grant to study theatre production at Stanford University where he received his Master of Arts in 1964. He was in the midst of writing his PhD dissertation when he was hired at the University of Calgary.

Mitchell was the Head of the Drama Division in the Department of Fine Arts from 1965-1968.  He then became first Head of the new Department of Drama 1968-1974 in the newly formed Faculty of Fine Arts.  Under his direction the department grew rapidly in the 1970s, following Mitchell’s production centred curriculum that blended academic and practical studies around the preparation and performance of stage plays.  Mitchell chose plays that challenged both his students and the audience including Volpone, The House of Atreus, In the Penal Colony, and Spring Awakening.  He also conducted summer theatre study tours for the Faculty of Continuing Education:  London, Stratford and Edinburgh in 1982; and Stratford, Niagara-on-the-Lake, and New York in 1983.  Mitchell retired from the University in 1984 and was awarded Professor Emeritus status.

Mitchell was very active in educational and community theatre groups in Calgary. Among his many activities he was a founding member and on the Board of Directors of MAC 14 Theatre (1965-1968), the Musicians and Actors Club that was the precursor to Theatre Calgary; a founding director of Prairie Players, a professional touring company (1966-1968); and a founding member with Joyce Doolittle of Calgary Youth Drama Society and the Pumphouse Theatre. Mitchell was also the founder and director of several productions for the Riverside Theatre Company and The Alternative Theatre Company. Among the many productions he directed and/or acted in were: The Importance of Being Earnest, Every Man in his Humour, Ten O’Clock Mail, Echoes in the Attic, Hosanna, and Saved. Mitchell continued to act and direct in his retirement in Victoria, and was honoured with a theatre named for him at the Pumphouse Theatre in 1984.

Mitchell travelled widely in his retirement, touring Vietnam and Turkey, visiting friends in England and Europe and frequently spending his winters in Thailand and the Philippines. He died in Victoria, B.C. on July 22nd, 2006.

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