THE BEST FOOLING Adventures in Canadian Theatre LIKE NO OTHER PRESS 2017
In the first volume of his memoirs, As Far As I Remember, Michael Bawtree told the story of his youthful years, from his birth in Australia to growing up in England during and after World War II, with an education at Radley College and Worcester College, Oxford and a two-year stint in the British Army. In this second volume he recounts his experience as a raw new immigrant in Canada, and his first steps as a professional actor, a university instructor, a book critic, dramaturge and playwright. In the years that followed he made a name for himself at the newly-founded Simon Fraser University, where he initiated the theatre program, and at the Stratford Festival, where he eventually served as Associate Director and director of the Third Stage, before leaving to freelance as a theatre director both in Canada and the USA. In 1975 he founded COMUS Music Theatre with Maureen Forrester, and went on to establish himself as a pioneer in Canadian music theatre development. The volume finishes in 1977 as he is on his way for the first time to the Banff Centre, where he was to play a major role in the following ten years.
Michael's story, elegantly and amusingly written, gives us a vivid picture of Canada's theatre activity in the sixties and seventies, with honest though not always flattering portraits of some of its most distinguished artists. He is also open and honest about himself, recounting his failures and well as his successes, and sharing with us what became the love of his life.
"BAWTREE RELEASES SECOND VOLUME OF MEMOIRS Humorous writing, honesty and behind-the-scene insights make this book a hit.
The Best Fooling is about blazing a path professionally and personally in Canadian theatre in the freewheeling and expansive 1960s and 1970s. What makes this book fun to read is Bawtree's gift for humorous anecdotes, his honesty, the people he meets like Gregory Peck, Elizabeth Taylor and a drunken Tennessee Williams and, of course, his behind-the-scenes look at the making of theatre." - Elissa Barnard, Chronicle Herald
"Wonderful book, and a wonderful life to make a book out of!" - Peggy Feltmate
"A great achievement" - John Weston
"By the end I felt almost giddy from the swirl of events . . It is an amazing story." - Jonathan Harlow
"THE BEST FOOLING is spellbinding, a superbly told story of life, love, and work, and with it the world of theatre in Canada has truly opened up for me." - Beert Verstraete
"Anyone with an interest in the history of modern Canadian theatre will be eager to read this well polished new memoir." - Wendy Elliot, Advertiser
"It takes me somewhere else; it does for me, and even more so, than what Gielgud and Guinness did for me when they drew me into their personal worlds; the work is transporting and I float on it as on a cloud." - Walter Borden, actor
"His open, straightforward, and vulnerable style is a wonder to read." - Mike Butler, the Grapevine
"A tour de force...it gets more and more enthralling from chapter by unputdownable chapter...this is a classic of theatrical memoir, indeed of any memoir. A marvellous book." - Maureen O'Brien, actor and novelist
"Michael has made, and kept, many friends over the years. If you are one of them, you will know why you regard him as a Living National Treasure; if you are meeting him for the first time, this book will add you to the list." - Bill Clarke
From an early reader: "Bawtree vividly captures the tensions and trials of production life. It often seems so chaotic when you are in the thick of it, especially when things appear to be (or are actually) running off the rails. He's made more sense of it than I think I have ever read anywhere."
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