Henry Woolf – Actor – Professor of Drama – Canada
(born 20 January 1930) is a British actor, theatre director, and teacher of acting, drama, and theatre who lives in Canada, and a longtime friend and collaborator of 2005 Nobel Laureate Harold Pinter, having stimulated Pinter to write his first play, The Room (1957) in 1956. Woolf served as a faculty member at the University of Saskatchewan from 1983 to 1997 and as artistic director of Shakespeare on the Saskatchewan from 1991 until 2001.
Born to Jewish parents in London in 1930, Henry Woolf was educated at Hackney Downs School, where he met Harold Pinter; he and Pinter were friends and collaborators for over 60 years.
Henry Woolf – All The World’s a Stage
He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of London and then pursued a postgraduate course in directing at the University of Bristol, Bristol, England, before going to the United States, to earn a postgraduate diploma from the College of William and Mary, in Williamsburg, Virginia. While doing his directing course at Bristol, he commissioned and directed Harold Pinter’s first play, The Room (1957), in which he also originated the role of Mr. Kidd.
In 1978, with his wife, actress/director Susan Williamson, whom he married in 1965, Woolf moved to Canada where he took a teaching position at the University of Alberta Drama Department. By 1983 they had settled in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, where they currently reside. They have four children.
Woolf is described as “a living icon of the theatrical avant-garde, an actor who throughout the 1960s would appear (for pitiful pay) in any play that broke new boundaries” (Eyre and Wright 229). During the 60s, he acted in theatre companies in London, leading to various tours in New York and elsewhere, working alongside such contemporaries as Laurence Olivier, Orson Welles and Ralph Richardson.
His film credits include Marat/Sade (1967), The Lion in Winter (1968), Steptoe and Son (1972), Steptoe and Son Ride Again (1973), The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975), Gorky Park (1983), Superman III (1983). He still makes occasional film appearances, in the 2004 short film, Of Note and in the 2007 short film smallfilm. In All You Need Is Cash, a film by The Rutles (a fictional mock-Beatles band jointly created by Eric Idle and Neil Innes), Woolf played a character named Arthur Sultan, a fictional spoof of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.
On British television he played the Man in Harold Pinter’s one-man play Monologue (1973); parts in Rutland Weekend Television (1975) and The Sweeney (1975); the Collector in the Doctor Who serial The Sun Makers; served as the host of the 1970s pre-school British educational series Words and Pictures; and performed the role of Doctor Cornelius in the BBC adaptation of Prince Caspian (1989).
Woolf joined the faculty of the University of Saskatchewan in 1983, was promoted to professor in 1990, also serving as head of its Drama department, and received the University’s Master Teacher Award in 1994, before retiring in 1997, at the Canadian mandatory retirement age of 67. Woolf also served as artistic director of the annual summer Shakespeare on the Saskatchewan festival, in Saskatoon, from 1991 until his retirement from that position in 2001.
Engaging Minds: Henry Woolf
Working With Pinter – Henry Woolf
In March 2003, Woolf directed an all-female production of Twelfth Night, by William Shakespeare, at the University of Winnipeg.
In April 2007, he reprised his roles as Mr. Kidd in a production of Pinter’s The Room (1957), marking the 50th anniversary of the original production, and as the Man in Pinter’s Monologue (1973), both of which occurred at the University of Leeds conference Artist and Citizen: 50 Years of Performing Pinter.
A full listing of Henry’s roles as an actor can be seen here…….