Stage Door News

Toronto: Legendary theatre director Daniel Brooks has died at age 64

Tuesday, May 23, 2023

With tenderness and respect we share the news that renowned Canadian theatre artist Daniel Brooks, 64, passed yesterday in Toronto after a long but well-lived illness, held by his daughters Emma and Kate, in the presence of his brother Adam, surrounded by the love of family and friends.

One of Canada’s most highly regarded and accomplished theatre artists, Daniel Brooks was born in Toronto in 1958, he attended Upper Canada College in his youth, going on to study (and discover his life’s passion) theatre at the University of Toronto.

Brooks worked as a director, writer, actor, producer, and teacher, over the course of a career that spanned over forty years. He was a co-director of the storied independent theatre troupe Augusta Company (co-founded with Don McKellar and the late Tracy Wright), as well as da da kamera (with frequent collaborator Daniel MacIvor on productions including House, Here Lies Henry, and Monster). Later, Brooks was a Playwright in Residence at the Tarragon Theatre and the Artistic Director of Necessary Angel Theatre Company from 2003 to 2012. Daniel Brooks was also widely known for his collaborations with Guillermo Verdecchia (The Noam Chomsky Lectures, Insomnia), John Mighton (Possible Worlds, Half Life) and Rick Miller (Bigger Than Jesus). During his career he won several professional awards including the Chalmers Award, three Dora Mavor Moore Awards for directing, and the Edinburgh Fringe First Award. He was nominated for the Governor General’s Award, and in 2001, Brooks was the first recipient of the prestigious Siminovitch Prize in Theatre.

On that occasion, the Siminovitch jury praised “his depth of commitment, intellectual discipline and brilliant stagecraft…With idealism and fearlessness, he has been eager to address complex issues in both contemporary and historical works.”

Most recently, in the spring of 2022, Brooks wrote and starred in the uncharacteristically revealing one-person show Other People at Canadian Stage, a bracingly honest account of his time at a silent meditation retreat following his terminal cancer diagnosis in 2018.

Just last month, Brooks directed Anton Chekov’s The Seagull for Soulpepper Theatre, a production originally scheduled for March of 2020. The production was a career-culminating labour of love for Brooks and garnered exuberant reviews and played to sold out houses over an extended run.

His family notes that a celebration of Daniel’s life will be held this summer. There will be dancing.

Photo: Daniel Brooks.