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A note from Dennis Kennedy, Professor of Drama Emeritus, on the passing of Michael Bogdanov

Photo: Michael Bogdanov (left) with Prof Dennis Kennedy after the Honorary Degree ceremony in Trinity in 2005

Michael Bogdanov: In Memoriam

Michael Bogdanov, the theatre director with deep ties to Trinity College Dublin, died on Easter Sunday 2017 at age 78. Born in Wales to a Lithuanian father and a Welsh mother, he studied modern languages in Trinity, where he was active in Players. After graduation he remained in Ireland for a few years to work at RTE. In England he was assistant director for Peter Brook’s ground-breaking Midsummer Night’s Dream (1969) and thereafter directed at the Royal Shakespeare Company and the National Theatre, creating a number of startling productions. He founded the English Shakespeare Company in 1986, a touring troupe designed to make the Bard accessible. His seven-play history cycle The War of the Roses, a modern-dress retelling, made a huge impact worldwide. He was often accused of being ‘un-English’ and no doubt that pleased him: his influences and comrades-in-arms were European, his politics were leftist, and he had no patience for boring classicism. His career took him around the globe. He directed theatre, opera and films from the Abbey in Dublin to Brazil, Paris, Tokyo, Milan, Munich, and Chicago, and was the Intendant of the Deutsches Schauspielhaus in Hamburg (1989-92), the only non-German to hold the post. He remained active up to his death.

He came back to Trinity a number of times and was appointed Honorary Professor of Drama in 1998. In 1994, soon after The Samuel Beckett Theatre opened, he directed an adaptation of Beowulf for acting students, and returned to give workshops and lectures. His devised production of Artaud in Ireland with the graduating class of the professional acting programme (1999) was a fine example of his facility with text and visuals, and his deep understanding of actors. He received an honorary Doctors of Letters degree from Trinity in 2005.

Dennis Kennedy
Professor of Drama Emeritus
Dennis Kennedy held the Samuel Beckett Chair of Drama in Trinity from 1994 to 2006, and collaborated with Michael Bogdanov on theatre pieces and films in Ireland and Wales.