Christopher Newton, former artistic director of Shaw Festival, has died at 85

Christopher Newton, a former artistic director of the Shaw Festival, has died.

Organizers of the festival in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont., shared news of the 85-year-old’s death on social media.

They credit Newton with reinvigorating the festival, which does theatre inspired by playwright George Bernard Shaw, during his tenure as artistic director from 1979 to 2002.

Among Newton’s contributions were the development of distinctive festival seasons, the establishment of a permanent acting ensemble and the creation of an artistic training program now known as the Slaight Family Academy.

An actor, director and playwright, Newton also served as the artistic director of both Theatre Calgary and the Vancouver Playhouse.

The Shaw Festival says it will celebrate Newton’s life at an appropriate time.

“Thank you Mr. Newton for your innumerable contributions to the Shaw Festival and Canadian theatre,” the festival tweeted. “Your light and guidance will be missed.”

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