Michael Oglesby CBE DL
It is with great sadness that we received the news this morning that founder of The Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting Michael Oglesby has passed away….
I met Mike on my very first day working at the Royal Exchange. Bruntwood were sponsoring a New Play for the first time and he and his wife Jean were invited to attend the read through on the first day of rehearsal. I noticed how he listened with a startling stillness and found his excitement about what might happen to the script in rehearsal infectious. And so began a partnership between Bruntwood and the Royal Exchange and a friendship between the two of us. Mike was a brilliant advocate for Culture and believed passionately in making it accessible for everyone. He loved artists and particularly playwrights. He understood the value of supporting them at the beginning of their careers. He relished their company and celebrated their work. We judged many Bruntwood Prizes together. He had a brilliant knack of spotting the plays which would truly excite audiences and the playwrights who would go the distance whilst having a huge respect for the process the theatre went through developing the winners. He was only interested in reflecting his honest response to the work and he championed to the hilt the plays and writers that inspired him.
He also backed the big ideas that helped the Exchange break new ground. From the global Reach and international advocacy at the heart of Birth to giving me the encouragement to dream up a new touring Space, The Den, which would redefine how the Exchange makes and shares work with communities. I was delighted to spend some of my last day as Artistic Director with him earlier this month and moved by his words at my leaving party. Mike loved the Royal Exchange. He saw almost everything the theatre produced from its opening in 1976. He cared deeply about how it might grow and change and he believed in where I wanted to take it. That made everything possible and it meant the world to me
Sarah Frankcom, Director of LAMDA and former Royal Exchange Theatre Artistic Director