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Adrian Mitchell

Poet, playwright, staunch pacifist and performer Adrian Mitchell first won international theatre fame with his adaptation for Peter Brook of Peter Weiss’ Marat/Sade (1964). He collaborated with Brook again at the Royal Shakespeare Company on US (1966) and his other acclaimed adaptations included Calderon’s The Mayor of Zalamea (for the National Theatre, 1981) and Life’s a Dream, with John Barton, for the Royal Shakespeare Company, 1983).

His own successful plays – many of them for children – included Man Friday (1972), Tyger (1972), Mind Your Head (1973), White Suit Blues (1977) and The Tragedy of King Real (1983).

Born on October 24, 1932 in London, he was educated at Dauntsey’s in Wiltshire, where he began writing plays as a teenager. He did his national service in the RAF then went to Christ Church, Oxford where he became the editor of the student weekly, Isis. He wrote poetry and worked for the Oxford Mail, the Evening Standard and later the Sunday Times as its television critic.

He wrote his first novel If You See Me Comin’ in 1962, which was quickly followed by a string of poetry volumes.

He was a brilliant reader of his own work and was much in demand at festivals throughout the country. In 1965 he was one of the key poets appearing at the famous Poetry Olympics at the Royal Albert Hall, in company with Allen Ginsberg.

He worked briefly for Kenneth Tynan on the ITV arts programme Temp, where he met the actress Celia Hewitt, who was to become his partner for 47 years.

More recently, he was closely associated with both the RSC and the National Theatre. His Pied Piper ran at the National in repertory for three years and his The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe was a staple fixture of the RSC. He also adapted a Beatrix Potter trilogy for the Unicorn Theatre.

He died on December 20, aged 76.

Patrick Newley

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