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John Sumner (director)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

John Sumner

John Hackman Sumner

27 May 1924
Died24 May 2013 (aged 88)
Melbourne, Australia
EducationNational Opera Studio
  • Director
  • producer
  • theatre founder
  • artistic director
  • theatre manager
  • costume designer
  • set manager
  • author
  • administrator
Known forMelbourne Theatre Company

John Hackman Sumner, CBE, AO (27 May 1924 – 24 May 2013) was an English-born director, who was the founder and artistic director of Melbourne Theatre Company in Australia.[2][3][4]

Early life

Sumner was born in England in 1924. At an early age he attended the London Opera School. He served in the British Merchant Navy in World War II before commencing his career in theatre in 1947 in Dundee as assistant stage manager. He later became stage director and manager with H. M. Tennent Theatres in the west end of London before moving to Australia in 1952.[2][3]

Career in Australia

In 1953, Sumner established the Union Theatre Repertory Company (UTRC), later becoming the Melbourne Theatre Company, where he served as artistic director until 1955.[3] After a short time in Sydney managing the Australian Elizabethan Theatre Trust he returned to Melbourne and resumed his role as artistic director in 1959, continuing until 1987.[3] He directed more than a hundred plays from Australia and overseas and established the MTC as a model for other state theatre companies.[3] He was appointed Commander of the British Empire in 1971[5] and was made an Officer of the Order of Australia in 1985.[6]

In 2009, the main performance space in the Melbourne Theatre Company's Southbank Theatre was named in his honour.[3][7]


Sumner died in Melbourne on 24 May 2013, at the age of 88. He was survived by two daughters, Alice and Victoria.[3] John also had a son, Justin, by his first wife, Karis Mond, granddaughter of the ICI founder Ludwig Mond, Lord Melchet. Justin Sumner currently lives in Cornwall.


  1. ^ "John Sumner".
  2. ^ a b "John Sumner AO CBE b.1924". Hall of Fame. Live Performance Australia. Archived from the original on 5 March 2019. Retrieved 25 May 2013.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g "MTC Founder John Sumner Passes Away at 88". 24 May 2013. Retrieved 25 May 2013.
  4. ^ Hownslow, Thomas (25 May 2013). "Melbourne Theatre Company loses founder". The Age. Retrieved 25 May 2013.
  5. ^ "John Hackman Sumner". Australian Honours Search Facility, Dept of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. Retrieved 21 September 2020.
  6. ^ "John Hackman Sumner, CBE". Australian Honours Search Facility, Dept of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. Retrieved 21 September 2020.
  7. ^ "The Sumner". Melbourne Theatre Company. Archived from the original on 19 April 2013. Retrieved 25 May 2013.
This page was last edited on 16 December 2021, at 22:17
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