After graduating Sydney University with a B.A. Dip Ed, Don was appointed to teach at Singleton High School. While there became very involved in the Singleton Amateur Dramatic Club, before returning to Sydney in the 1950’s to train with Doris Fitton and John Aiden at the Independent Theatre.
Taking classes led by Hayes Gordon, Don studied the methods of acting developed by Constantin Stanislavsky alongside actors Jon Ewing, Reg Livermore, Clarissa Kaye and Lorraine Bayly. This group became the original Ensemble Theatre of which Don was a permanent member for 25 years as actor and director. In his time he was in involved in over 30 productions, performing in The Physicists, Enemy of the People, Savages and Shadow of a Gunman and also directing The Night Thoreau Spent in Jail, Philadelphia Here I Come and The Ballad of Billy Lane.
From 1984 onwards Don performed shows with all of the major companies across Australia including Six Degrees of Separation and The Crucible for Sydney Theatre Company, The Company and The Seagull for Company B, Duet For One for Marian Street Theatre, Glengarry Glen Ross for Western Australian Theatre Company and South Pacific and Hello Dolly for Gordon Frost Organisation. Other stage credits include Samuel Beckett in Justin Flemming’s Burnt Piano for the Ensemble Theatre and Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk for B Sharp at Downstairs Belvoir. Don also built an extensive on screen resume appearing in various television shows including Skippy and All Saints, films Phar Lap and Moulin Rouge and numerous recordings of radio plays for the ABC and presenting school program The World We Live In.
Critical acclaim came in 1993 when Don performed and directed A Whimsical Fellow his one man show, based the life of John Shaw Neilson, at Warf 2. Over a decade later Navigating Flinders, based on the navigator of the same name, premiered at the Ensemble Theatre. It won Don his first Glugs’ Taffy Davies Memorial Award for Best New Australian Work. His second came for his much loved play Codgers which had its world premiere at Riverside Theatres in August 2008. Codgers had sell-out seasons during the following regional NSW tour and also a national tour in 2010, and then in 2011 a film version was made. Biddies, the companion piece to Codgers, toured nationally in 2012. Additionally, Don also won the Seaborn Broughton and Walford Glugs Lifetime Achievement Awards and a Best Actor Award at Tropfest 2012 for his role in short film Boo directed by Rupert Reid.
His final stage performance in December 2012 in The Greening of Grace at the Darlinghurst earned him acclaim from the Sydney Morning Herald and his last on screen performance in the short film Heaven was recently selected as a Dendy Awards finalist at the Sydney Film Festival. In tribute, the film is now dedicated to Don.
A farewell celebration was held on Tuesday April 16, 2013 at 11:30am at Riverside Theatres in Parramatta.