Peter R. Snell is an actor, director, musician and writer. He is a multi-instrumentalist (saxes, flute, penny whistle, harmonica, guitar and an array of odd instruments) who has worked for over 45 years as a teacher, writer, actor and director.
From the mid-1970s until the early 1990s, he performed for a number of major Canadian theatres, including Theatre Passe Muraille and Theatre Plus in Toronto, the Blyth Festival in central Ontario (where he created the role of Greg in I’ll Be Back Before Midnight), Persephone Theatre in Saskatoon and Theatre New Brunswick. In 1983, he performed in one of George Luscombe’s last productions, The Wobbly, at Toronto Workshop Productions/TWP.
In 1979-80, he directed two plays (Dial M for Murder and Who Saw Him Die?) for the Northampton Repertory Theatre in England and in 1980 played George in Of Mice and Men for the same theatre. He performed in a 1980 production of Macbeth for the Ludlow Festival Theatre in Shropshire. He has performed in several fringe theatre pieces in London, England.
Between 1983 and 1991, Snell was the founder and artistic director of Toronto-based Major Roadworks Theatre (MRT), which worked directly creating theatre with men and women in Canada’s federal prisons.
He has conducted workshops, written articles and used theatre and music to encourage people to become politically active. Throughout the 80s and early 90s, he was a part of the emerging “popular theatre” scene in Canada. With his wife, Carol Snell, he has used theatre with community groups to promote citizen action in many areas, including prison reform, agricultural initiatives, the environment and education. In theatre workshops he has dealt with issues such as domestic violence, welfare, child abuse, unemployment and racism amongst teaching personnel. In 1988-89, he wrote and directed two plays for Toronto’s Kensington Youth Theatre Ensemble of St. Stephen’s (KYTES), working with street youth on issues of concern to them.
In the late 1980s and 1990s, he concentrated on writing for regional newspapers (including Kingston’s Whig Standard and the Toronto Star), and was a regular correspondent for the now-defunct theatre magazine, Theatrum. From 1998 to 2015, he taught ethics, politics and journalistic skills at a community college in Ontario.
In 2007 and 2008, he was a member of the Festival Players of Prince Edward County, playing major roles. Locally, he has also been seen on stages in the guise of his alter ego, Pedro Hazard.
Musically, he has played with a number of bands, originally in Toronto and presently collaborating with local Tweed and Belleville musicians. For many years he has played in duos and trios with singer/songwriter Joe Callahan.
He was born in Cuckfield, Sussex, England in 1950 and educated at York University (Toronto), Queen’s University (Kingston), and the University of Saskatchewan. He holds Honours B.A., and M.A. degrees in philosophy, and studied for a PhD. He also studied theatre at York University and is a fully accredited teacher of English as a second language (TESL).
He presently lives in the tiny hamlet of Thomasburg, Ontario, Canada, 28 kilometres north of Belleville.
Peter lives with his wife Carol and has one son, Matt, a daughter-in-law, Rebecca, a grandson, Lewyn and a granddaughter, Molly. He is an inveterate walker, and records his exploits on his website, vishwawalking.ca. He also has a soft spot for turtles, and has an ongoing “take a walk with a turtle” project.
The online Canadian Theatre Encyclopedia has an account of Peter’s theatrical work
You can email Peter at anguscroat[at]gmail.com.