Obituary: Graeme Cruickshank
Graeme Cruickshank was one of a generation of stage managers and technicians whose careers covered major changes in theatre practice and who were key to improving pay, standards and working practice for backstage workers.
After national service in the Royal Air Force, he became a valuer with a firm of philatelic auctioneers in 1954, but also acted with a number of amateur dramatic groups. In 1959, taking a considerable salary cut, he made his professional debut as actor and assistant stage manager with the Penguin Players at the De La Warr Pavilion in Bexhill-on-Sea.
It was not until 1963 that he first became a company and stage manager, including the first national tour of Camelot. This was a role he was to fulfil on many productions on tour and in the West End until he retired in 1990.
For many years, Cruickshank was an active committee member of the Stage Management Association and for a while its deputy chairman. He also served on a number of Equity committees and represented stage managers on the Equity council from 1975-80.
For 18 years he was chairman, and subsequently life president, of the Save London’s Theatre Campaign, and served as a trustee of the Theatres Trust for nine years. He was a vice-president of the Society for Theatre Research and an active member of the Association of British Technicians’ Historical Research Committee and the British Music Hall Society’s Study Group, writing and lecturing on various aspects of British theatre and music hall history.
Described in the citation as “the perfect CSM: quiet, fair and amusing”, in June 2008 he received the Stage Management Association’s golden headset award. He was an honorary life member of both the SMA and Equity.
He moved to New Zealand in 2009.
John Graeme Cruickshank was born on August 25, 1932, and died on December 8, 2016, aged 85.