Obituaries

Obituaries

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Andy Nairn

June 11th 1986 to November 26th 2020

Andy’s Career

During his, 16-year-long career, Andy Nairn became a prominent, popular and respected backstage figure in theatre in the Midlands and, since 2019, as Head of Production at Leicester Curve.

He began his career at the Westacre Theatre in his native Norfolk before moving to Derby to study Theatre Arts at the city’s university. Having worked throughout his course at Derby Playhouse (now Derby Theatre), he took a full-time job there as Deputy Head of Stage in 2006.

He spent six years at Nottingham Playhouse as a stage technician from 2008, during which time he toured extensively with productions such as Perry Henzell’s Caribbean musical The Harder They Come (2010), Arnold Wesker’s Roots (2012) and Robert Icke and Duncan Macmillan’s adaptation of George Orwell’s 1984, co-produced with Headlong and the Almeida Theatre, which was also seen in the West End at the Playhouse Theatre in 2014.

The same year, Andy returned to Derby Theatre as Technical Manager, where he stayed for four years, becoming Head of Production and Premises for 18 months before joining Leicester’s Curve in 2019.

Thoughts from Jay Bridges

I had the pleasure of being Andy’s colleague and the absolute privilege of being his friend.

At his funeral, I had the honour of reading his eulogy, in it I talked about an entire nation of Theatre workers; Production Managers, sound designers, lighting designers, hundreds of roles who worked with Andy during his career, an entire nation represented by five of us at his funeral. But to see the overwhelming reaction from the Theatre world was incredibly humbling and would have meant the world to Andy.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen such an outpouring of care, emotion, and genuine sadness from an industry, on learning of the illness and untimely death of a friend and colleague. That was the measure of the man, that was an indication of how well respected, loved and highly thought of Andy was. Those that know him well also know that he not so secretly enjoyed having a grumpy side, but as night follows day, seconds after being a miserable sod you’d all be laughing along to something.

There was also a beautiful, kind, loving side to Andy, there was nothing he wouldn’t do for his friends and in particular, his family. His three daughters and his wife were his world and nobody will feel his loss more than them.

Leicester Curve, Nottingham Playhouse and Derby Theatre joined together to light their buildings red in memory of our friend and colleague, a small act to symbolise what one person meant to an entire industry and the loss that will be felt for years to come.

Although Andy may be gone, it is on us; friends, family, colleagues to ensure that Andy’s memory and legacy lives on, that is why I’m so proud of the reaction and to throw my whole hearted support to the Andy Nairn Bursary for Technical Theatre, ensuring that his name and memory lives on in those who follow in his footsteps.

The Andy Nairn Bursary

Throughout his career, Andy worked with a vast number of young people. Many of these individuals have gone on to secure prestigious jobs in theatres and venues up and down the country or have attend universities to further study Technical Theatre. Encouraging and teaching a new generation of theatre technicians is something that was always close to Andy’s heart. In recognition of this, Nottingham Playhouse, Derby Theatre and Curve Leicester have set up a bursary in Andy’s name to provide technical training and experience for young people.

You can find full details and make a donation here.



Ken Bennett-Hunter

February 4, 1947 to March 20,2017

Production Managers Forum PMF kenneth bennett-hunter

In March 2017 we lost one of the founding members of the PMF, Ken Bennett-Hunter.

Conceived out of the desire to discuss a challenging set, Ken and like-minded PMs would meet in the West End to share their thoughts and ideas. Ken was one of the most experienced and well-respected figures in British theatre over the last half-century. He began his career as a stage manager with the Lyric Players Theatre in Belfast in 1970, before moving onto the Phoenix and Haymarket Theatres, ENO and English Music Theatre at Sadlers Wells. He was production manager for Opera North, Young Vic, and Theatre Royal Stratford East, where he became its administrative director and established its commercial arm, Stratford East Productions as well as helping to develop the software Modelbox.

For more than 30 years he was an articulate advocate and passionate champion in the pages of The Stage, latterly as editor of its Backstage section. He also edited The Stage’s series of career guides, making them an essential tool for technical courses at leading drama schools.A committed supporter of training and education, he helped train stage management students in South Korea’s Seoul Arts Centre and in 1986 became technical director of LAMDA.

As a freelance consultant, Ken oversaw the refurbishment of London’s Cochrane Theatre and worked with a wide range of companies including Temba, Talawa, the Wolsey Theatre in Ipswich, Dublin’s Abbey Theatre, the Battersea Arts Centre and London’s Southbank Centre.

From 1995-1998 he was President of the Theatrical Management Association As a producer, he was involved with the improvised opera ensemble Impropera, Janine Ulfane’s A Million Freds Productions, managed seasons in Stockholm and, from 2003 to 2009, the annual TMA awards.

In 2008, Ken became editor of Sightline, stepping down in 2014 to become associate editor to Paul Connolly, a position he held until his death.

Away from formal responsibilities, he was a valued mentor and unfailingly generous with advice to successive generations of theatre students and established figures alike.


Petrus Bertschinger

1962 to October 8 2015

Production Managers Forum PMF PETRUS BERTSCHINGER

Everyone who knew him was deeply shocked and saddened at the news of Petrus’ death. He was greatly admired for his skill as a theatre technician and teacher, and much loved as a colleague and friend. A regular contributor to PMF discussions and panels Petrus was part of the group planning the relaunch of the PMF at the time of his sudden death.

He trained in stage and production management at the Central School of Speech and Drama and after graduating in 1984 quickly established himself as an admired stage manager and production manager before moving into consultancy and education with equal success.

After graduating, his first professional job was in stage management with the Oxford Playhouse, after which he went to the Donmar Warehouse. He worked with a diverse range of companies, theatres and festivals, including as production manager with Matthew Bourne’s Adventures in Motion Pictures, technical director of the Covent Garden Festival and a 10-year spell with Unicorn Theatre, during which he was planning and operations director responsible for delivering the company’s new twin-venue home. With Theatre Projects Consultants he specialised in theatre management operations, backstage and back-of-house planning, serving as project manager to the Howard Theatre in Downing College, Cambridge (2009), The Convention Centre Dublin (2010), the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama and Beacon Arts Theatre, Greenock (2011).

In addition to his consultancy work, he was a senior lecturer in Technical and Production management at Central and a trustee director of the Association of British Theatre Technicians. He also contributed articles to Sightline magazine and The Stage.


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