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Baker, Bob

CTE photo
Bob Baker's 1996 Canadian Stage production of A.R. Gurney's Later Life with Sheila Moore (bottom left), Nicola Cavendish, Tom Wood (left) and Robert Haley

Director born in Edmonton, Alberta in 1952. He graduated from the University of Alberta, Department of Drama in 1974 with a BFA in acting. His first professional job was as a company member of Les Feux Follets at Charlottetown's Confederation Centre of the Arts in 1974 (dir. Alan Lund).

In 1972 he co-founded Alberta Barter Theatre, and from 1974 to 1979 he was in the acting company at the Stratford Festival.

Bob Baker was Artistic Director of Edmonton's Phoenix Theatre from 1982 to 1987. While there he guided the company towards contemporary works featuring social commentary and a strong visual element, both of which still characterize his work. Among the works he helmed there were Caryl Churchill's Cloud Nine, Harvey Fierstein's Torch Song Trilogy, Tom Woods B-Movie, The Play, and North Shore Live, co-written with Tom Wood and Nicola Cavendish. He also created a weekly improvized soap opera, Soap on the Rocks. He succeeded in increasing the company's subscriptions by 100%.

CTE photo

For the next two years, he directed at the Shaw Festival, Alberta Theatre Projects, Vancouver Playhouse, Canadian Stage, Harbourfront Theatre in Toronto, National Arts Centre, and the Tarragon Theatre.

From 1990-98 he was Artistic Director of Canadian Stage, and there directed Stephen Sondheim's Into The Woods, A.R. Gurney's Later Life and Raymond Storey's The Glorious 12th among others. In autumn 1996 he mounted the entire seven-hour Tony Kushner epic Angels in America; A Gay Fantasia on National Themes.

He took over the challenging artistic directorship of the Citadel Theatre in 1999, managing diverse productions at three very different stages. In his first season he directed Picasso at the Lapin Agile, Popcorn, Into the Woods and Little Shop of Horrors. The season was a huge success, with its productions garnering twelve Sterling Awards (Baker himself won for best direction of Popcorn).

In subsequent seasons, he has featured local actors in major roles, and Toronto actors with whom he worked at Canadian Stage, such as Fiona Reid. He has directed over fifty plays on the three stages of the Citadel, including Tom Wood's adaptation of A Christmas Carol (annually for fifteen years), Cabaret, Who Has Seen the Wind? (2002, adapted by Lee MacDougall), Present Laughter, Grease, Measure for Measure, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, The Pillowman, The Constant Wife, Oliver!, Pride and Prejudice (adapted by Tom Wood), August: Osage County (2011), The Three Musketeers (2011), Little Women, the Musical (2011), Death of a Salesman (2011), Mony Python's Spamalot (six Sterling Awards, including Outstanding Director and Outstanding Musical Production). In May 2014, he directed the world premiere of Make Mine Love by his partner, Tom Wood, an extravagently produced screwball comedy about the personal disasters inherent in making a Hollywood movie when egos and ambitions collide.

In 2010, he incorporated the Citadel's creative development programs in The Robbins Academy, comprising a theatre school, a young company, and the Citadel/Banff Centre for the Arts' professional theatre program.

In 2016, Baker resigned from the position of Artistic Director of the Citadel, after seventeen seasons. However, as Artistic Director Emeritus on a two-year contract, he supervised the Citadel/Banff Professional Program, and directed two productions on the Shoctor stage: the premiere of Tom Wood's adaptation of Sense and Sensibility and the A Christmas Carol.

Baker's philosophy of theatre is to produce plays that are "provocative, highly energized, passionate" (quoted in Edmonton Journal 9 July 16: D1), while keeping an eye on the diverse tastes of the audience.

He has received four Dora Mavor Moore Award nominations, and one Dora for B-Movie, The Play. In Edmonton, he has received four Elizabeth Sterling Haynes Awards (Sterling Awards), and three nominations. He is a member of Edmonton's Cultural Hall of Fame, and was awarded the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Medal for exceptional service, excellence and community involvement. In June 2019, Baker was expelled from the Canadian Actors' Equity Association, in response to complaints about bullying that impeded a safe and respectful workplace.

Profile by Gaetan Charlebois and Anne Nothof

Last updated 2020-03-01