Chris Brookes Obituary, Newfoundland, Renowned storyteller and arts legend dies at 79
- john Gibson
Chris Brookes Obituary, Death – Chris Brookes, a founding pillar of theatre in Newfoundland and Labrador, author, broadcaster, and storyteller recognized throughout the world for his audio documentaries, died in a sad accident, according to his family. He was 79. Brookes’ professional journey began with engineering studies at Memorial University and continued with theater studies at Yale and the University of Michigan.
He began producing radio documentaries in the 1990s, including work for the CBC in Newfoundland and Labrador, and he spent much of his latter career at Battery Radio, an independent company that produces broadcast documentaries and sound design. He was well-known in St. John’s for his storytelling ability and ingenuity, and he was a prominent player in several recent podcasting ventures. In 2000, he was awarded the Order of Canada for his services to Newfoundland culture, and in 2007, he got an honorary doctorate from Memorial University.
Brookes’ most recent projects include The Other Side of This, an audio treasure hunt across downtown St. John’s, and permission, a podcast app that guides listeners through the murky waters of permission and includes excerpts from RNC officer Doug Snelgrove’s sexual assault conviction. Andy Jones, a St. John’s actor, says one of the highlights of his career has been working with Brookes on the audio versions of his children’s novels in recent years. Brookes was also a founder member of The Mummers Troupe, whose productions were well-known throughout the province and country in the 1970s and early 1980s.
Many of the pieces, such as What’s That Got To Do With The Price of Fish?, were divisive and community-focused. And where have all the Club Seals gone? The Troupe also helped to establish the St. John’s Resource Centre for the Arts, which aided in the acquisition, renovation, and promotion of the LSPU Hall as a premier local performance venue. Brookes hired Donna Butt, the creative executive director of Trinity’s Rising Tide Theatre, in 1973 and collaborated on several productions with the group.
She claims that she would not be in the industry if it weren’t for Brookes. Brookes’ work as a mummer impacted Fabian O’Keefe, a community theatre producer and director who saw the Troupe break into his school as a child. Brookes was a caring, inquiring soul who had time for everyone and everything, he recalls.