Celebrating Britain, Canada and the Arts

13 June 2017

Cardiff University academic programmes international conference celebrating a modern era of cultural exchange

British Television Drama, Shakespearean Theatre and the Modern Arts in Film, Literature, and Music

Marking the forthcoming 150th anniversary of Canadian Confederation, leading academics and film, theatre, and television producers  are to celebrate the ongoing cultural exchange and dialogue between Britain and Canada at a three-day conference organised by Dr Irene Morra at the School of English, Communication and Philosophy.

Britain, Canada and the Arts highlights the strong culture of artistic exchange, influence, and dialogue between Canada and Britain, with a particular emphasis on the decades after World War II.

Scholars and practitioners from theatre, history, literature, politics, music, film and television, cultural studies, design, and visual art will investigate, bringing a wide range of critical and disciplinary perspectives and approaches to discussions.

The three-day event features two major highlights:

Sydney Newman – panel discussion and screening of Armchair Theatre (15 June).

In this rare event, influential producers Tony Garnett (Up the Junction; Cathy Come Home) and Kenith Trodd (Pennies from Heaven; The Singing Detective) are in conversation with TV consultant Dick Fiddy and producer John Wyver. Two rare screenings from Armchair Theatre follow the discussion. This event is open to conference registrants only.

Canadian producer, writer and director Sydney Newman (1917 – 1997) is perhaps best known in the UK for The Avengers and Dr Who, overseeing a heyday of national television as Head of Drama at the BBC. But his pioneering role in the production of ground-breaking social realist drama series such as Armchair Theatre and The Wednesday Play is perhaps more profound. Returning to Canada in 1970, Newman took on pivotal roles including Head of the National Film Board of Canada and senior roles in the Canadian Film Development Corporation and Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

“For ten brief but glorious years, Sydney Newman ... was the most important impresario in Britain ... His death marks not just the end of an era but the laying to rest of a whole philosophy of popular art” – The Guardian

Robin PhillipsScreening of Robin and Mark and Richard III (16 June)

The screening is an intimate exploration of the legacy of the renowned theatre director Robin Phillips and the intricacies of creative collaboration in the theatre.

Film-makers followed Robin Phillips and actor and writer Mark McKinney (The Kids in the Hall, Saturday Night Live, Slings and Arrows) working on a piece from Shakespeare’s Richard III over a three-year period to offer an insightful look at Phillips’ creative style.  Acclaimed actors Dame Maggie Smith, Brent Carver and Martha Henry are among those reflecting on the insights and standards that informed his productions.

Following the screening, acclaimed director and writer Susan Coyne (Slings and Arrows, Mozart in the Jungle) participates in a Question and Answer session, chaired by current Stratford Festival Director Liza Giffen.

Special screening tickets (£5) include a special wine reception generously funded by the Canadian High Commission. The screening and appearance of Susan Coyne is made possible by the Canada-UK Foundation. This screening event is free to conference ticket holders.

British-born director and actor Robin Phillips (1940 – 2015) began his artistic life on stage, working alongside Maggie Smith and the generation of 60s actors beloved as British treasures today. Rising to become Greenwich Theatre’s Artistic Director, Phillips switched countries to become Director of Canada’s Stratford Festival in 1975. He would continue to work on both sides of the Atlantic, winning awards for his work in musical theatre. In 2010, Phillips received the Governor General's Performing Arts Award for Lifetime Artistic Achievement, Canada's highest honour in the performing arts.

Britain, Canada and the Arts takes place in London at the Institute of English Studies (15 – 17 June). Conference registration (£65/£55 concessions) and special Screening of Robin Phillips’ /Q&A tickets (£5) are available from the Institute of English Studies, University of London.