John Brebner

Local playgoers may not recognize the name of director John Brebner of Petaluma.  But down in Marin County, he’s a legend.

The Ross Valley Players recently presented its first-ever “Life Time Contribution Award” to Brebner, 88, for his five decades of service.

Brebner first directed “Anniversary Waltz” at the theater in 1953 and last directed “The Importance of Being Earnest,” in 2004, the opening play of the theater’s 75th season.

Brebner also has  worked as an actor on the Ross Valley Players’  Barn Stage, including supporting appearances in: “A Man for All Seasons” (1980), “Sleuth” (1985), “The Mystery of Edwin Drood” (1991), “Seasons Greetings” (1991), “Oh, Coward!” (1992), and “The Hollow Crown” (1992).

He served as president  of the Ross Valley Players from 1991 to 1992, and helped raise funds to build the company’s scene shop.

Brebner was co-founder and the first artistic director of the original Marin Shakespeare Festival in 1961, and also has worked with Sausalito Players, Marin Civic Light Opera, Theater Artists of Marin, Novato Theater Company and Mill Valley Center for the Performing Arts.

(A few years back, I saw director Brebner’s production of “Inherit the Wind” for the  Novato Theater Company, and thought it was community theater in the truest sense: a cast of performers with widely varied levels of training and experience, coming together to work as one entity.)