A Message from Rhonda Lillard:
I don't think anyone has yet written about Mike's important work as a teacher, a role he threw himself into with all the characteristic traits already mentioned...gusto, glee, and grumpy grace. As just one of his hundreds (thousands?) of former students, I can attest to his greatness. We all have, if we're lucky, at least one teacher who really makes a difference. Mike was such a one for me.
Mike was my theatre instructor at Malaspina in the early 70s. Having already been a member of a small theatre group in Ontario, I thought I was pretty hip, but Mike imparted, as no other instructor before or after, the sheer magic of The Play. From Antigone to Uncle Vanya, he provided insightful background information and encouraged us out from our comfort zones to strut our stuff. I can still see him striding into the class (one of those dreadful portable classrooms at the Kennedy St. campus), ready to rock our complacent adolescent worlds.
I remember two particular shows that Mike directed. One was a modern-dress version of Moliere's "The Physician in Spite of Himself," in which Mike cast me (for reasons I now blush to think) as the wet-nurse. He and Carol have a photograph of me on stage in this production...with my big hair and short, tight nurse's uniform! (How much ransom $ for that photo, Mike?) And another memorable show was Dylan Thomas's "Under Milk Wood,"
which was eventually filmed, at the seaside, somewhere near Yellowpoint I think. I wonder if that film still exists in college archives?
Anyway, Mike was instrumental in my choosing to complete a BFA in Theatre at UVic, and while it's not been the most useful of undergraduate degrees, it has served me well in other walks of life. "All the world's a stage...(and I'm leaving on the next one.)"
If we're lucky, remarkable teachers can also become remarkable friends. To have never lost touch, after all these years, means a great deal. Thanks Mike. Thanks Carol.
My love to you both,