John Allison, 46, Dies; L.A. Theater Figure

Times Staff Writer

John Allison, a Welsh actor who later brought his directing and writing skills to the myriad stages of Los Angeles, died Thursday night from the complications of AIDS.

Allison was 46 and had known he was a victim of acquired immune deficiency syndrome since last year.

Twice honored with Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Awards (as producer of Tennessee Williams’ “Small Craft Warnings” and as director of “Medea”), Allison at his death was artistic director of Extraordinary Theatre Co. at the Callboard Theatre.

He was a native of Bryn Mawr, Wales, who trained at Bristol’s Old Vic School and then toured Europe performing in medieval plays. He also worked with the Royal Court Theater and the Royal Shakespeare Co. in London and later the British Broadcasting Corp.


Allison came to Los Angeles in 1971 when equity waiver theaters (those with fewer than 100 seats) were becoming havens for both established and experimental drama.

In 1974 he was co-author of “Stand by Your Bed Boys,” which ran for a then unprecedented eight months at the Callboard. The comedy marked his directorial debut here.

Allison concurrently continued acting, appearing with Richard Chamberlain in “Cyrano de Bergerac” and with Marsha Mason in “Mary Stuart,” both at the Ahmanson.

In 1981 he directed “Midsummer’s Night Dream” and “As You Like It” at the Garden Grove Shakespeare Festival and in 1984 “Henry IV, Part I” and “Amadeus” at South Coast Repertory Theatre.

He also directed and played the lead role in South Coast’s “Luther,” for which he was nominated for an additional Drama Critics Circle Award.

Allison was chosen to launch South Coast’s 20th anniversary season in 1964 with “Saint Joan,” a play he found in keeping with his “personal fascination with the idea of the power of an individual to change the world. . . .”

His most recent credits were “Perfect Timing” at the West End Playhouse and “Bashville” at the Odyssey.

Allison is survived by his mother, a sister and brother. In lieu of flowers, donations are asked for the Los Angeles AIDS Project.