Goodbye “Uncle John” (1941-2021). John Saltzer, the very best of the old school theatre gentlemen, breathed his last this morning at his home in Adelaide, Australia. He’d been unwell recently, and, true to form, refused palliative care choosing to spend his final hours in his own home; independent, proud, self-reliant, and valiant to the very end.
John was one of a kind and knew the inside of a theatre like the back of his own hand. He was an expert in production and technical theatre and taught the subject first at NIDA in Sydney, and then for almost a decade at TTRP/ITI in Singapore. His connections to Singapore ran deep. John conceived, designed, consulted, and out-fitted the theatre and other interior spaces at the Substation, at 45 Armenian Street. He did the same for TTRP/ITI when we opened at our Jurong campus. Subsequently, he taught Technical Theatre for actors at ITI and coached the students (after hours) in English — reading and speech.
John was well qualified to do it all. He had started life in the theatre as an actor and had trained for it. Later, thinking acting was vanity, he switched focus to technical theatre and production. And of course, he was brilliant at it. The old joke about John in NIDA was that he cared more for the tools and equipment backstage, than for the actors on stage. That was unkind. John was a thorough professional and he brooked no nonsense backstage. He suffered fools even less, gave his all to every job he took on and expected nothing less from anyone who worked with him. His standards were the highest, and he made no bones about it. He was hard as flint on the outside with a heart of gold on the inside. We will never see the likes of him again … thank you my dear friend; friend of the Theatre; … “Now cracks a noble heart. Good-night, sweet prince; And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.”
~ T. Sasitharan, ITI Director & Co-Founder,
Wednesday, 6 Oct 2021