At our meeting on 15 July we were privileged to have a talk from the distinguished theatre director Vivyan Ellacott. It was a very appropriate selection for the start of Bob's year as they found much in common, including a love of opera and a passion for books from the Folio Society. Vivyan told us a lot about his time at the Kenneth More Theatre in Ilford with interesting insights into risqué shows such as 'Hair' and the 'Rocky Horror Show'.
He has had a fascinating career, which even in his 80s in not yet over. Starting at the age of 8 in the Swansea Empire pantomime, Vivyan went on to perform juvenile roles in radio and TV for BBC Wales. As an adult, to pay his way through University, he worked backstage at the Royal Opera House and as “jack-of-all-trades” at several London fringe venues.
He then toured the UK and Germany in various productions before being appointed Theatre Manager at Wimbledon Theatre. After one year he returned to Wales, working for Welsh National Opera and then as Theatre Manager at the Swansea Grand Theatre.
After seven years at Swansea, acting, directing and managing, he was appointed Manager of the Kenneth More Theatre in Ilford, where he remained for 37 years, directing several hundred plays, musicals, operas and 35 pantomimes.
During his years at the KMT his freelance work included directing UK tours of “Hair”, “Godspell” and the long-running 1980s UK, European and Israeli tour of “The Rocky Horror Show”. He also directed a series of opera and musical productions in Germany, Austria, Hungary and Romania.
He served 8 years on the Theatres Advisory Council, 12 years as Chairman of the Commercial Theatre Managers Association of Great Britain, and 30 years as Trustee of the UK Theatre Council. His work for local arts and East London charities led to his being made an Honorary Freeman of the London Borough of Redbridge in 2002.
If you would like to get to know us, text the President, Friddy Bishai, on 07764 662001 and she will send you a link to our meeting.