Desmond J. Conacher
In 2001 the Classics Drama Group added the title "The Conacher Players" as part of its formal designation. Desmond Conacher was not only a respected teacher and scholar, as well as being Canada's leading expert on Greek Drama, but also a great friend to Classics at Trent.
When Trent University was being planned in the early 1960s, it was Desmond Conacher with whom the Founding President (Tom Symons) communicated about what sort of Classics Department a modern university should have. Two of Professor Conacher's students would come to teach at Trent , and in 1983 he would conduct the first review of the Classics programme at Trent . He attended every opening of the Classics Drama Group from 1995 to 2000, often giving the keynote lecture on the play that was opening that night.
He and his wife Mary interacted easily and warmly with the Classics Drama Group, and endeared themselves to several years of casts at Trent . After Professor Conacher passed away in October 2000, it was decided to honour his memory by adding the title "The Conacher Players" to the group's official name.
On three occasions (Orestes, Oedipus at Kolonos, Ion) The Conacher Players have taken their production to the Ignatieff Theatre at Trinity College (Toronto), to the very building where Professor Conacher held the Chair of Greek and taught ancient drama for many years.
The memorial cabinet in the departmental office also honours his memory and contains a shelf of books from his library.
From the Programme of Orestes (played at Trinity College, University of Toronto, 31 March, 2001):
Desmond Conacher was one of the leading classical scholars of his generation and a renowned expert on Greek tragedy. A graduate of Queen's and Chicago, he taught at Dalhousie University and the University of Saskatchewan , and then here at Trinity College from 1958 until his retirement in 1984. He published widely in the field of Greek tragedy; among his most notable books are Euripidean Drama: myth, theme and structure (1967) and literary studies on such works as Prometheus Bound (1980) and the Oresteia (1987).
He was a loyal friend to Trent , having helped to found the University's classics department in the mid-1960s. He returned to Trent many times, and began a tradition of attending opening or closing night performances of CDG productions, with his wife Mary, in 1995. Desmond and Mary became CDG cast members' favourite guests over the years. Their genuine and sincere support was a true inspiration, and we are delighted and honoured that Mary continued the tradition by attending the opening night of Orestes this year.
Desmond's enthusiasm for the CDG led to his delivering a number of guest lectures on CDG plays at Trent , writing the review of Hecuba for Didaskalia in 1997, and inviting the Director to speak at the "Crossing the Stages" conference in Saskatoon later that year. Shortly before his death, Desmond was instrumental in providing the initial impetus for this performance at Trinity College.
The Classics Drama Group lost a great friend and mentor when Desmond Conacher died on October 23, 2000 . It is with great pride that we now bear his name.