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Obituaries Peter Cheeseman

Peter Cheeseman, “arguably the most influential director in British regional theatre in

the latter half of the 20th century” (Kevin Berry, The Stage) has died aged 78.

Peter, who had already helped to set up The Victoria Theatre in Stoke-on-Trent, fought for 20 years to open the country’s first purpose-built theatre-in-the-round, and in 1986 succeeded in opening the New Vic in Newcastle-under-Lyme. He was Chair of the National Council for Drama Training (NCDT) and founded the pioneering Master of Fine Arts course in directing at Birkbeck, now led by his former associate director, Rob Swain.

Peter brought a new ideology to mainstream theatre-making; it emphasised local stories often told in documentary form, in which every word of the script had to have been previously spoken or written by the people whose stories were being told. The director Mike Leigh, who worked with him as an actor in the 1960s, said “Working with Peter was a special and creative time. The spirit in which we worked, to be political and truthful, was down to him. He was a genius, a vagabond, a facilitator. What he achieved is colossal and he will be remembered with great respect and love.”

Peter Cheeseman was made an Honorary Fellow of the Guildhall School in 1972. He was appointed CBE for services to drama on his retirement as the New Vic’s director in 1998, but remained its director emeritus and honorary archivist until his death.

Gerald Drucker

Gerald Drucker, former Principal Double Bass and official photographer of the Philharmonia

Orchestra, has died at the age of 84.

Gerald became interested in music at an early age, studying first the piano and later the violin. He attended the Guildhall School of Music & Drama in the early 1940s and by the end of the war, he had already mastered


several instruments, including the tuba. He took up the double bass when his friend, the bassist Gordon Pearce, was unable to attend an ENSA concert. Knowing his natural facility with instruments, he asked Gerald to fill in for him. In 1946, aged 20, he was offered the position of principal double bass with the newly founded Yorkshire Symphony Orchestra.

Gerald returned to London as the new principal bassist of the BBC Symphony Orchestra in 1953 and moved to the same seat at the Philharmonia in 1964, where he stayed until retiring in 1990. He first started photographing the Philharmonia in 1961 and his photographs have since been exhibited at the Festival Hall and featured in the international press.

After his retirement Gerald continued to play an active role in music, organising the anniversary Far East tour of the London Mozart Players, and mentoring violinists Vanessa Mae and Min Jin Kym and the pianist Hiromi Okada.

Note: Graham Drucker, Gerry’s son, would like to receive recollections of or reminiscences about his father, both during his time at Guildhall School and throughout his musical life. If you have a memory that you would like to share with him, please send it to:

Graham Drucker 16 Steephill Court Road VENTNOR PO38 1UH

Mike Edmonds

Mike Edmonds was a classical guitarist with a passion for classical guitar composers from the South Americas.

A biochemistry/zoology graduate from Hull University, Mike played guitar from an early age. After completing his degree he studied classical guitar as an external pupil at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama, and later as a full time student at Trinity College of Music. After graduation he continued his studies with masterclasses with the Venezuelan virtuoso Alirio Diaz and the Cuban Manuel Barrueco, and was a finalist in the annual Guitar Foundation of America held that year at Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

1982 saw his London debut at London‘s Purcell Room performing as soloist and accompanist. Mike taught guitar at Junior Guildhall where he was also a senior examiner. Other teaching posts included the Universities of Kingston upon Thames and Essex (The Colchester Institute).

Sir Charles Mackerras

Sir Charles Mackerras, the world renowned conductor and leading exponent of Leos Janáček’s

operas, has died of cancer. He was 84.

In the UK, Sir Charles was associated with English National Opera and the Royal Opera, was formerly Principal Conductor of Welsh National Opera and Principal Conductor of the BBC Concert Orchestra. He was Principal Guest Conductor of the Philharmonia from 2004. Throughout his career he also held conducting posts in Germany, Australia, the Czech Republic, the United States, Austria and France, and made many critically acclaimed recordings.

He moved to Devon in 1996 where along with his teaching and performing he ran the Blue Walnut Café, one of Torquay’s most prestigious music venues and containing the smallest independent cinema in the world. During this time Mike performed with violinist Alison Holt as the duo “Ten Strings”.

In 2010, Mike recorded the album Milonga following his passion for South American composers and guitarists. Mike died from pancreatic cancer in April 2010, aged 59.

(Edited from

George Kitson George Kitson, who has died aged 88, made a significant contribution to theatre education.

He became principal of the Central School of Speech and Drama in London in 1978. Tim Leggatt, his deputy principal 1984-86, wrote in The Guardian, “George presided over the speech therapy course and the drama teachers’ course, which had both been diploma or certificate courses before his time, and were raised to degree level while he was principal. He also introduced a voice course, to train voice teachers.”

George retired from the Central School of Speech and Drama in 1987, and subsequently served on the National Council for Drama Training and helped to set up the Conference of Drama Schools, of which he became chairman.

George Kitson was made an Honorary Fellow of the Guildhall School in 1998.

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