Powys Thomas

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Powys Thomas (25 December 1925 [1] – 22 June 1977) was a British-born actor who played an important role in the development of theatre in Canada. [2]



He was born in Wales in December 1925. His early education was at Rendcomb College, Cirencester, Gloucestershire. [3] He was known there as Willie. He was a leading light in the school's many theatrical ventures. He left Rendcomb in 1944 with a history scholarship to Queens' College, Cambridge. Soon thereafter he was called up as a Bevin Boy [4] (coal miner apprentice) to serve as a coal miner in Wales for the duration of World War II. He studied at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School. He was a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company at Stratford-upon-Avon from 1951 to 1956. Thomas came to Canada in 1956 [2] and worked for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. He was one of the first actors at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival in Ontario and was the first director for the actors' workshops there. [1] [5] With Michel Saint-Denis, he founded the National Theatre School of Canada in 1960 and was artistic director for the English section until 1965. [2] Thomas also founded the Vancouver Playhouse school. [1]

He gave memorable performances in King Lear in Vancouver, The Three Musketeers, Waiting for Godot and Lorenzaccio at Stratford (Ontario) and in Three Sisters in Winnipeg. [1]

Thomas can be seen as Hudson in "The Last Voyage of Henry Hudson" a role to which he gives Shakespearean dimensions, black and white (Educational Film Board of Canada) on YouTube.


Thomas died suddenly during a holiday in Wales on 22 June 1977, at the age of 51. [2]

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  1. 1 2 3 4 "Thomas, Powys". Canadian Theatre Encyclopedia.
  2. 1 2 3 4 "Actor Powys Thomas, 51, dies suddenly in Wales". Montreal Gazette. June 25, 1977. p. 30.
  3. "Old Rendcombian – for Alumni of Rendcomb College". www.oldrendcombian.org.uk. Retrieved 2016-03-29.
  4. "Results for 'Bevin Boys' | The National Archives blog". The National Archives blog. Retrieved 2016-03-29.
  5. "Powys Thomas acting and directing credits". Stratford Festival Archives. Retrieved 2019-06-21.