Collection MS-3-23 - Personal archives of David Renton

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Personal archives of David Renton

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  • Graphic material
  • Textual record

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  • 1926-2006 (Creation)

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Physical description

1.5 m of textual records and graphic material. - ca. 3000 slides. – ca. 100 photographs.

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Name of creator

Biographical history

Writer, director, actor, and producer David Renton was born in Geelong, Australia in 1934. His career began in 1951 as an actor with St. Martins Theatre in Melbourne. He immigrated to Canada in 1954, eventually becoming a Canadian citizen in 1966. In Canada, Renton continued to work in the performing arts industry. In the 1950s, he worked for the CBC doing special effects lighting and lighting design for television shows such as Howdy Doody and Front Page Challenge. He also appeared on radio and television, began acting in stage productions across Canada in 1958, and joined John Hirsch’s acting company at the Manitoba Theatre Centre in 1960. Three years later, Renton moved to Halifax, Nova Scotia to become a member of the first company of Neptune Theatre, where he would perform in more than one hundred plays. Over the next four decades, he made a name for himself in Canada in both the performing arts and amateur athletics communities.

From 1965 to 1966, Renton traveled around the world to study theatre. He visited fifteen countries, thirty companies, and saw more than sixty productions. Renton’s career further diversified during the 1970s and 1980s. He directed a youth theatre group called "Project 30" in Halifax in 1973, served as the acting artistic director of Neptune from 1977 to 1978, was the drama advisor for the Nova Scotia Department of Education, founded Portus Theatre Productions where he served as artistic director from 1976 to 1983, served as Artistic Director of the Stephenville Festival in Newfoundland in 1981, coordinated the Provincial High School Drama Festival in Halifax in 1986, and acted at the Shaw Festival at Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario in 1980 and the Stratford Festival from 1984-1986. In the early 1990s, Renton was involved with Upstart Theatre serving as director, sitting on the board, and acting in productions.

Renton also performed in film and television, appearing in The Neptune Factor (1973), Bluenose Ghosts (1974), Emily of New Moon (1999), and Russian Roulette (2001). In addition, he served as the stand-in for Gordon Pinsent in The Shipping News (2001). As a resource person, Renton worked extensively within the Canadian theatre community and in schools on many facets of theatrical production. He was an active member of the Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists (ACTRA) and the Canadian Actors' Equity Association (CAEA).

David Renton also received acknowledgement for his work within the performing arts community. In 1955, he received an award for bravery in filming Hurricane Hazel in 1954. In 2003, he was awarded the Robert Merritt Achievement Award for his contributions to theatre in Nova Scotia. More recently, in 2004, the Maritime Chapter of ACTRA presented him with the ACTRA Award of Excellence, which was then renamed the David Renton Award of Excellence, in recognition of his contributions to the organization.

Renton also made valuable contributions to Canadian amateur athletics. He was the chairman of the Team Liaison for Skate Canada, which was held in Halifax in 1983, and later the production coordinator of the 1987 Canada Winter Games held in Sydney, Nova Scotia. In 1990, he was chairman of the Opening and Closing Ceremonies Committee for the World Figure Skating Championships held in Halifax.

David Renton and wife Karine had two daughters, Rachel and Bea. He passed away on May 2, 2006.

Custodial history

The materials were donated to Dalhousie University Archives in four accessions. The first three accessions took place in 1990, 1993, and 1994. Prior to that, the records were in the custody of David Renton. The latest accession was in 2011, with the records previously held by Karine Renton.

Scope and content

Fonds consists of records relating to Renton's personal life as well as his acting and teaching careers. The personal papers include files on specific actors, athletics, clippings and publications, festivals and workshops, financial records, Portus Theatre Productions (the production company he founded), school-related theatrical education materials, committee work, unions, associations, and a variety of other subjects. Correspondence includes letters to, from, and about Renton and are primarily theatre-related. The scripts were accumulated by Renton throughout his career as an actor, director, and producer. The fonds also includes photographs and slides of numerous theatrical productions.

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  • English

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Restrictions on access

There are no access restrictions on these materials. All materials are open for research.

Terms governing use, reproduction, and publication

Materials do not circulate and must be used in the Archives and Special Collections Reading Room. Materials may be under copyright. Contact departmental staff for guidance on reproduction.

Finding aids

Associated materials

See also the Donald Wetmore fonds at Nova Scotia Archives and Records Management, Halifax, NS.

Related materials can be found in the Neptune Theatre (MS-3-1), Theatre Arts Guild (MS-3-4), and Upstart Theatre (MS-3-34) fonds.

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Further accruals are expected.

General note

Preferred citation: [Identification of item], David Renton fonds, MS-3-23, Box [box number], Folder [folder number], Dalhousie University Archives, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.

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