It is with great sadness that the National Arts Centre (NAC) learned of the passing of Métis actor August Schellenberg August 15th at his home in Dallas, Texas. Mr. Schellenberg was one of Canada’s greatest actors, who most recently performed as King Lear in the acclaimed all-aboriginal production at the NAC in 2012. The legendary actor had a profound impact on the cultural life of the country.
Born in Montréal in 1936, August Schellenberg received his early training at the National Theatre School. He performed in many wonderful roles in both stage and screen productions including: Free Willy, Black Robe, Crazy Horse, The New World, and CBC Television’s North of 60.
From an early age, August Schellenberg dreamed of mounting an all-aboriginal production of King Lear. In fact, he started talking about it in the 1960s, a vision that was realized just last year at the NAC in Ottawa.
“August Schellenberg had been thinking about mounting King Lear in 1967, just two years before the NAC opened its doors in Ottawa. Through his friendship and collaboration with our former Artistic Director of English Theatre, Peter Hinton, that dream was realized in our Theatre in 2012. It was a ground-breaking and proud production,” said Peter Herrndorf, the NAC’s President and CEO.
Mr. Schellenberg’s first performed in The Ecstasy of Rita Joe, at the NAC in 1969. The production was the first-ever show mounted in the NAC’s Theatre, during the opening weeks of Canada’s largest, bilingual, multi-disciplinary performing arts centre.
To honour Mr. Schellenberg’s extraordinary contribution to Canada and the national stage, the NAC has lowered its flag at the entrance to the building. Canada’s National Arts Centre extends condolences to Mr. Schellenberg’s family and friends across North America.