Blake Heathcote was born and raised in Toronto, where he studied architectural and urban design at the University of Toronto.
Choosing not to pursue architecture as a profession, he went to work as a freelance director and playwright in the theatre, subsequently directing many Canadian premieres as well as over a hundred other productions across Canada and in the United States. He has worked as assistant director to renowned Broadway director Hal Prince on three musicals, and with playwright/director Sir Alan Ayckbourn in Scarborough, North Yorkshire, where Sir Alan also directed two of Blake's plays at the Stephen Joseph Theatre-in-the-Round.
While working with Ayckbourn at the Theatre in the Round in North Yorkshire, Blake conceived the idea of creating a similar theatrical space in Port Colborne, Ontario, where he was Artistic Director of the Showboat Festival Theatre from 1987 to 1997. Based on Blake’s design and community efforts, funds were raised and the theatre was built, having its inaugural season in 1997.
He went on to found a new theatre company in Port Dalhousie, Ontario. He resigned as Artistic Director in 1999 to concentrate his time on writing projects, but continued to act as artistic advisor to the theatre through the 2000 season. He has written fifteen plays, some of which have been produced across North America and the U.K.
Testaments of Honour
Blake’s grandfather, Major E.T. Heathcote MM ED, served in both wars, and his father, Lt. E.B. Heathcote, served in WW II. Major Heathcote, an artist, was in charge of the War Art programme, and supervised the efforts of the war artists and many photographers during WW II.
In 1999, while digitally scanning (for preservation) his grandfather’s extensive scrapbooks and sketchbooks from both world wars, Blake conceived the Testaments of Honour project, a non-profit initiative whose objective is to chronicle on video first-hand accounts of Canadian veterans to provide future generations with a richer, deeper understanding of Canadian history through use of first-person testaments.
Random House of Canada approached Blake to author books based on his interviews, and he subsequently published the first book, Testaments of Honour in October 2002, which became a number one Canadian bestseller. His second book, A Soldier’s View, featuring photographs from the personal albums of veterans, was published in October 2005 and also became a bestseller.The Testaments archive now contains a collection of 550 veterans’ interviews (85 in the French language) and 1,200 hours of digital video, 14,000 photographs, and 4,000 documents..
From 2006 to 2011, he worked as Video Producer for Random House of Canada (for the Random House, Doubleday, McClelland & Stewart, Knopf, and Anchor imprints), creating video interviews with a wide range of their authors – Margaret Atwood, Salman Rushdie, John Grisham, Bill Bryson, and Farley Mowat among many others.
Blake recently completed his third book, and is now developing a documentary series celebrating the Canadian experience during WW II.