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Navigating Flinders


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Dates: 21/07/2005 - 21/08/2005

Location: Ensemble Theatre

by Don Reid

presented by Ensemble Theatre - World Premiere

Matthew Flinders Jonathan Gavin
Thomas Pitot  
Samuel Flinders Eamon Flack
General de Caen  
Sir Joseph Banks  
Nicholas Baudin  
Rev Tyler  
Robert Fowler Drew Forsythe
Ann Chappelle  
Delphine d'Arifat Ksenja Logos
Madame d'Arifat  
Mrs Tylere Fiona Press
Director Christopher Hurrell
Designer John Senczuk
Lighting Stephen Hawker
Composer Basil Hogios


DON REID, 1931-2013

The actor Don Reid was a mainstay of Australian stage, film and television, and one of the founders of the Ensemble Theatre.
Actor Helen Morse said: "He was, and continues to be, my mentor, teacher, fellow actor of deep conviction … Every time I start work on a new production, Don is there - his wise counsel, his sense of humour, his strong values about what makes good theatre, his emotional truth."
Donald Cameron Reid was born on January 7, 1931 in Cobar, the third of four children to Jack and Molly Reid. The family came to Kogarah in 1937, and Don went to Canterbury Boys High. He won a scholarship to the University of Sydney, after which he was appointed to teach English and history at Singleton High. He met and married Wilma Heuston and joined the Singleton Amateur Dramatic Club, where he caught the eye of celebrated theatre director Doris Fitton.
Returning to Sydney, Reid joined Fitton's Independent Theatre School in North Sydney. In John Alden's production of The Merchant of Venice, Reid's Antonio inspired one critic to remark, "… a pound of this Merchant's flesh, would prove very tender indeed."
Along with other young actors, including Reg Livermore, Jon Ewing and Lorraine Bayly, Reid attended classes conducted by Hayes Gordon, learning the principles of acting derived from Stanislavski as influenced by American methods. In 1958, this group became the original Ensemble Theatre Company. On the intimate ''in-the-round'' stage in Kirribilli, their dedication to a new level of verisimilitude was revolutionary in Australian theatre. Reid remained a permanent member of the company for 25 years, acting in more than 30 productions.
He also directed with tenderness and insight, and actors loved working with him. Katharine Brisbane's review of his production of The Night Thoreau Spent in Jail was headed, "A night in the ranks of the angels".
Reid juggled a professional double life as, off-stage, he taught at East Hills Boys High, Narwee Boys and became English master at Kingsgrove North. In 1968 he left teaching to become a full-time actor, but was later lured back to the academic life to lecture in drama at Sydney Teachers College and the juggling resumed.
A break with the Ensemble in 1984 saw Reid performing across the country. His personal highlights included playing Willy Loman in Death of a Salesman and the acclaimed production of Duet for One with Helen Morse.
Reid was reunited with the Ensemble when it premiered his play Navigating Flinders in 2005. Later, as Samuel Beckett in Justin Fleming's Burnt Piano, he performed for the first time on the new Ensemble stage, which he had helped to create in 1984.
He appeared in all the obligatory television series, from Skippy to Scales of Justice, and returned to classrooms as presenter of the ABC's schools radio program, The World We Live In.
Reid's film work ranged from Phar Lap to Moulin Rouge! and, in latter days, Men's Group, alongside several fine short films including BOO! (for which he won the Best Male Actor award, Tropfest 2012) and the soon to be released Heaven.
Over the past 20 years, Reid wrote several plays. His admiration for Australian poet John Shaw Neilson led to the solo performance work A Whimsical Fellow - filled with Reid's gentleness, humanity and strength. Recent plays, Codgers and its sister piece Biddies, grew out of a collaboration with director Wayne Harrison, and fellow actor and Reid's partner, Fiona Press. Both plays toured nationally and Codgers also became a feature film.
Reid's final stage appearance was last November at the Darlinghurst Theatre in The Greening of Grace.
His friend and former student, Max Kimber, remembers, "I felt I could see his heart when he looked at me and that he spoke from his heart when he talked to me. And when he laughed, which was often, his heart was always in it - he laughed with all his being."
Don Reid is survived by Fiona, his daughter Jennie and her family and his siblings Margaret, Bob and Geoffrey. A son, Daryl, died in 1969.
      Fiona Press, Sydney Morning Herald