Entertainment

Bard in the Valley founder passes away

Allan Thain, the actor-director who established Langley
Allan Thain, the actor-director who established Langley's outdoor Shakespeare theatre company, Bard in the Valley, has died at 75 years old.
— image credit: file photo

All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players.
They have their exits and their entrances; And one man in his time plays many parts.

The man who brought William Shakespeare to the Fraser Valley has died.

Allan Thain passed away suddenly at the age of 75, on Tuesday, Dec. 3 in Logan Lake, B.C.

Thain and his wife Kathleen, an RCMP officer, lived in Langley for just five years, from 2006 to 2011. But during his time here, Thain played many parts — both on and off the stage.

Perhaps his the most significant contribution to the local arts community, however, was the establishment of an outdoor summer theatre company dedicated to the works of Shakespeare.

Thain introduced Bard in the Valley in the summer of 2010, with a production of A Midsummer Night's Dream — the same comedy in which he'd made his own stage debut, as Puck, at the age of 12.

That play, performed nine times on two Langley stages, reached an audience of 3,000. Since then, BIV’s four productions have been seen by 9,000 people.

But Thain's contribution to the community reached well beyond his vision of bringing Shakespeare to the Langleys.

"When he first arrived, he quickly made connections and with his boundless energy, good humour, enthusiasm and great ideas, he immediately, and happily, became a leader in the community," said Thain's friend and fellow performer, Diane Gendron, who took over artistic direction of Bard in the Valley after Thain moved to the Interior.

"People who knew Allan were constantly impressed by his vision, inclusiveness and talent. Allan had an infectious energy and he gave his ‘all’ to his projects," said Gendron.

Interviewed for a Langley Times feature in 2010, Thain described acting as his creative outlet.

As a shy child, he explained, he turned to the stage early in life as a way to help him out of his shell.

Years later, as an award-winning actor and director, Thain was recognized for his contributions to the community when he was chosen as Langley’s Senior of the Year in 2011.

He was an active Rotarian and served on the media committee for the Rotary Club of Langley Central. He was also the entertainment chair for the Rotary International District 50 50 conference in 2011 and served as president of the Langley Arts council in 2010 and 2011.

Thain worked with a number of Langley schools, including Douglas Park Elementary, to offer theatre workshops to Langley’s young people.

He mentored many new actors – both young and old – through the Bard in the Valley productions.

In his professional life, Thain was a seasoned communications specialist with a career in radio, television, public relations, government and advertising.

He was also a national award-winning radio and television copywriter and producer.

Despite his passing, Thain's  mission statement of “One Goal, One Passion, Shakespeare for Everyone” lives on.

Bard in the Valley is now approaching its fifth season in Langley with the production of Julius Caesar in the summer of 2014. The production will be dedicated to the founding artistic director's memory.

A celebration of Thain's life will be held in Logan Lake on Wednesday, Dec. 11, at 1 p.m. It will take place at the Church on the Hill, which is located on Jasper Drive. Anyone who is planning to attend is invited to bring along a few memories about Thain to share at the informal gathering.

 

 

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