In Memoriam, Norman Young 1926 –2021

Norman Young onstage

Norman Young onstage

It is with profound sadness that we announce the passing of UBC Theatre Professor (emeritus) Norman Young. Norman was a legendary figure in the British Columbia entertainment world, responsible for establishing and supporting much of the theatrical infrastructure that exists in our province today.

After graduating from UBC, Young worked as an actor, production manager, and design director for various theatre companies and the CBC in Ottawa, Toronto, Vancouver and London, England. He returned to UBC as technical director of the new theatre department in 1961, stayed on, and retired after 30 years of service.

Norman was Co-Founder of the BC Entertainment Hall of Fame, a former member of the Canada Council, Chair of the Vancouver Civic Theatres Board and for his service on the latter, received the Civic Merit Award from the City of Vancouver. He was a founder of the BC Arts Festival, Chair of the BC Arts Board and has been a Director of the Vancouver Museum, The Vancouver Playhouse Theatre Company, the Vancouver Archives and the Vancouver Children’s Festival, and was Honorary Vice-President of PAL Vancouver. He was an energetic member of WOOPEA, auctioning off the world’s worst art to raise money for the BC Paraplegic Association. He was a lifelong advocate of Vancouver theatre spaces and people, and has worked hard, often behind the scenes, to keep Vancouver performing.

In retirement, Norman continued to keep himself very busy, advocating for a number of charities and theatrical endeavours in the city. In his late 80s to early 90s, he returned to the stage of the Frederic Wood, appearing yearly alongside a group of dedicated theatre alum loosely known as the “Theatre Alumni Group”, exploring various works of Samuel Beckett – with all proceeds going to Theatre Department scholarships. His last appearance in 2019 was in a small silent film based on Beckett’s 1964 short story The Expelled. 

Norman was a passionate promoter of theatre, a legendary raconteur (the stage hook may have been invented because of him), and a dedicated alumnus of Kitsilano Highschool. He will be fondly remembered by many who knew him.

“Tell Gerald I’m ready to play Einstein – I have all the talent needed.  Well, the hair, sort of, at least.”

The Norman Young Scholarship in Theatre was established in 2007 to recognize Norman’s incredible legacy at UBC and in the performing arts community. If you would like to make a contribution, you can click here or use the Donate button below.