JOHN Bell continues to wield a significant influence on theatre in Australia and in 2018 his impressive reach plays an important role in the BMEC 2018 annual season.
He directed the spellbinding Opera Australia production of Madame Butterfly which thrilled our audience in August and in less than a week the company he founded and which still bears his name, Bell Shakespeare, will be here with a powerful production of Julius Caesar.
Then, in November, John will be here in person with the pianist Simon Tedeschi in Bright Star, a feast of poetry and music featuring the works of Keats and Schubert.
John Bell’s biography is extensive and he is one of the nation’s most illustrious theatre personalities. Award-winning actor, acclaimed director, risk-taking impressario and torch-bearing educationalist, Bell has been a key figure in shaping the nation’s theatrical identity over the past 50 years.
After graduating from Sydney University in 1962, Bell worked for the Old Tote Theatre Company, all of Australia’s state theatre companies and was an associate artist of Britain’s Royal Shakespeare Company.
As co-founder of Sydney’s highly influential Nimrod Theatre Company, Bell presented many productions of landmark Australian plays, including David Williamson’s Travelling North, The Club and The Removalists. He also initiated an Australian Shakespeare style with Nimrod productions such as Much Ado About Nothing and Macbeth.
In 1990, Bell took on an even greater challenge, founding The Bell Shakespeare Company.
Bell’s unique contribution to national culture has been recognised by many bodies. He is an Officer of the Order of Australia and the Order of the British Empire; has an Honorary Doctorate of Letters from the Universities of Sydney, NSW and Newcastle; and was recognised in 1997 by the National Trust of Australia as one of Australia’s Living Treasures.
In Bright Star, Bell and Tedeschi explore the life, love and genius of two bright stars of the Romantic era – John Keats and Franz Schubert. Though they never met, these contemporaneous geniuses of literature and music were kindred spirits: both died young, having loved a woman beyond his reach due to her superior social standing, and both created masterpieces which still resonate strongly today.
Performing some of the most beloved poems of Keats including Bright Star, Ode to a Nightingale, and La Belle Dame Sans Merci, and music by Schubert including Ave Maria, Winterreise and Fantasie, Bell and Tedeschi share their insights into the enduring power of these timeless works, and the lives of the artists who created them.