Donkin, Eric Albert
Eric Albert Donkin, actor (b at Liverpool, Eng 9 April 1929; d at Stratford, Ont 17 March 1998). His acting career began as a radio-performer at the age of 11 in Montréal, prior to formal training at the Montréal Repertory School of the Theatre and the National Theatre School in the 1950s. His theatre career began as Potboy in She Stoops to Conquer with the Montréal Repertory Theatre, where he worked for 5 years with such renowned actors as Christopher PLUMMER and John COLICOS. A founding member of the multilingual La Poudrière Theatre (officially Le Théâtre International de Montréal), he appeared in the inaugural production of The Rainmaker on 11 July 1958.
Even with La Poudrière, Montréal offered few opportunities for English-speaking actors, so Donkin moved to Winnipeg in 1960 and joined John HIRSCH for 6 seasons at the MANITOBA THEATRE CENTRE. He performed in a variety of productions at the MTC, ranging from musicals such as Sandy Wilson's The Boyfriend, to classics such as Antigone by Sophocles, to contemporary plays such as Jean Anouilh's Thieves' Carnival. He returned to Winnipeg in 1970 for Hirsch's inaugural production of Brecht's A Man's a Man, the year MTC moved into its new theatre space.
In 1966 Donkin moved to Stratford, which he called home for the rest of his life. Remembered as one of Stratford's best character actors, Donkin displayed great comic talent and was awarded the Tyrone Guthrie Award in 1968. He is probably best remembered for the role of Estragon in Waiting for Godot (1968) and Ko-Ko in Gilbert and Sullivan's The Mikado (1982-87, 1992), which he performed over 500 times in Stratford, London, and New York and for which he won the Dora Mavor Moore award for Best Performance in a Musical (1987). At Stratford, he also performed the title roles in Julius Caesar (1978) and Cymbeline (1986).
In addition to his roles at Stratford, Donkin performed across Canada, both in one-man shows of his own creation (The Victorians, Altman's Last Stand and The Wonderful World of Sarah Binks), and at major theatres. Roles at major theatres included King Lear at the NEPTUNE THEATRE (1977), Alfred P. Doolittle in My Fair Lady at the CENTAUR THEATRE (1994), Mr. Hardcastle in She Stoops to Conquer at the NATIONAL ARTS CENTRE (1986), Ebenezer Scrooge in A Christmas Carol at the Young People's Theatre (1985) and Georges Pitou in Memoir at the Bastion Theatre (1982). His television credits include Waiting for Godot, The Three Musketeers, H.M.S. Pinafore, The Gondoliers and The Mikado.
Donkin died while rehearsing Much Ado About Nothing for his 26th season at the Stratford Festival.