Theatre director Michael Bogdanov has died aged 78 – BBC News

The British theatre, film and opera director Michael Bogdanov has died at the age of 78 while on holiday with friends, his publicist has confirmed.

Bogdanov, born in Neath, south Wales, died of a heart attack on Sunday.

He was known for his work with new plays, modern reinterpretations of Shakespeare, musicals and work for young people.

A family funeral in Wales will be followed by a memorial service in London at a later date.

Bogdanov directed in many of the world’s leading theatres and companies including the Royal Shakespeare Company, The Royal Opera House, Sydney Opera House, Vienna’s Burgtheater, on Broadway and the West End.

He was an associate director of the Royal National Theatre for eight years, directed eight productions for the Royal Shakespeare Company and co-founded the English Shakespeare Company in 1986 with actor Michael Pennington.

He was chief executive of the Deutsches Schauspielhaus in Hamburg, Germany’s largest national theatre, from 1989 to 1992.

In 1982, he went on trial at the Old Bailey for staging an act of simulated male sex in the play The Romans in Britain.

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Media captionMichael Bogdanov: ‘I suddenly realised I could go to prison’

He had been accused of procuring an act of “gross indecency” likely to cause offence for his production at London’s National Theatre, and spoke 30 years later of his “enormous relief” when the case collapsed and the prosecution withdrew its evidence on the third day of the hearing.

He also said he felt “very angry” that the private prosecution brought by the morality campaigner Mary Whitehouse had been allowed to happen at all.

His publicist said on Tuesday: “Michael’s iconoclastic approach to Shakespeare influenced a generation of audiences and practitioners, he had a life-long commitment to education and creating shows for young people and his approach to theatre was to make it political, accessible, joyous and transformative.”

Image copyright PA
Image caption Michael Bogdanov (third from left) with the National Theatre Team in 1984

Geoff Haden, chairman of the Dylan Thomas Society, of which Bogdanov was a member, said the director had been a collector of Dylan memorabilia and produced the play Under Milk Wood all over the world, including a version in Japanese.

He said: “On the centenary of Dylan Thomas’s birth in 2014 he produced a 36-hour marathon reading of all of Dylan’s work at the Grand Theatre in the poet’s home city of Swansea.

“This was an ambitious project that Michael had planned for years and it was a credit to his standing in the theatrical profession that he persuaded stars like Sir Ian McKellen, Sian Phillips and Nicholas Parsons to take part.”

Mr Haden added: “Michael was a true friend who was always ready to help promote the work at the birthplace and loved staying at the home of Dylan.

“He was also a patron of the International Dylan Thomas Prize in partnership with Swansea University and was due to attend the 2017 awards ceremony next month.”

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