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Tributes paid to former RSC manager

Graham Sawyer remembered with love
Graham Sawyer remembered with love

Tributes have been paid to Graham Sawyer, a much-loved former manager at the RSC, who died last week.

Graham, of St Gregory’s Road, Stratford-upon-Avon, died on 31st March aged 76, at Myton Hospice after a long battle with cancer and after being diagnosed with Covid-19.

Here his friend, Stewart McGill, consultant director at Playbox Theatre, pays tribute: “When I was very young living in Bristol I was in bed with flu for two weeks and planned to be Artistic Director of the RSC. I wrote to the manager for some advice and programmes to read whilst Ill. A superb reply came from an assistant manager, Graham. We have remained friends ever since.

“Graham was the perfect Theatre Manager at the RSC... he shunned new impersonal styles and ensured he was Front of House to meet, greet and say goodnight to his audiences. His familiar presence could be spotted in the auditorium giving the OK signal seconds before the house lights lowered.

“Graham loved his RSC and theatre, opera ,art, musicals, indeed all art forms. After he left the RSC first the first time, we would meet up in London at the National Theatre lounge and gossip for hours. His knowledge was immense. His laughter infectious.

“Only a few weeks ago we met for a final time in Stratford... we were planning for a Playbox to stage some of Julian Slades musical repertoire. It was shaping up to be cabaret and that will happen later in the year. My regret is that Graham won’t be there to see it and hear those gorgeous numbers from his beloved Salad Days, Free As Air and more.

“He was a true gentleman, arts connoisseur and friend to my family for so many years. I shall miss the laugh and the gossip.”

Another friend, Michael Rolfe, the Stratford mayor’s consort, and TV and theatre director, recalled: “Graham and I joined the Teddington Theatre Club in the early 60's and together won a drama prize at the Richmond Drama Festival. We have known each other and kept in touch ever since, especially in these last 30 years when we have both lived in Stratford. He will be much missed.”

To read Graham Sawyer’s full obituary and other tributes, see this week’s edition of the Stratford Herald (digital and print).

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