Gatehouse Pays Tribute To Late Festival Star Robert Hardy

Stafford Gatehouse Theatre Management is extremely saddened to hear of the death of celebrated actor Robert Hardy on Thursday 3rd August. The actor had a special connection with the theatre having performed in the first ever Stafford Festival Shakespeare production of Henry V at Stafford Castle in 1991.

Born in 1925, Robert Hardy’s acting career spanned an astonishing 59 years. After starting out treading the boards alongside the likes of Laurence Olivier in notable productions with – amongst others – the Royal Shakespeare Company, Hardy became a household name thanks to his performance as Siegfried Farnon in the 1970s TV drama, All Creatures Great and Small.
He went on to star in numerous other TV and film roles, including the lead in Winston Churchill: The Wilderness Years – for which he was nominated for a BAFTA – Professor Krempe in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein alongside Kenneth Branagh and Robert De Niro, and Minister of Magic Cornelius Fudge in the Harry Potter films.
However, it was his turn as Chorus in the very first Stafford Festival Shakespeare production, Henry V, that Robert Hardy cemented his place in the hearts of locals. In terms of his presence on stage and off, Hardy was a true professional, as actor and local journalist Rick Lane acknowledges:
“I was really saddened to hear of Robert Hardy’s death. I had the great pleasure of first meeting him during the Stafford Festival Shakespeare production of Henry V in1991. He was playing Chorus and I was playing Nym, as one of the amateurs from Gnosall Players who were involved in the show. He seemed to appreciate my performance and having worked with him again in Macbeth at the Gatehouse, he went on to ask me to appear in Henry V once more, at Barnwell Castle in Northamptonshire, this time as Bardolph where I had my had shaved and was hung on stage ! This was my first professional acting job. I worked again with him in Henry VIII the following year, at Barnwell Castle, this time with the great man as director
“He was one of the last of the old school gentleman actors and I owe him a great deal. He will be sadly missed” concluded Lane.
Stafford Gatehouse Theatre Artistic Programme Manager and Stafford Festival Shakespeare Producer, Derrick Gask, says:
“Of the many, many great actors to have graced the Stafford Festival Shakespeare stage, I can think of very few who are remembered as fondly as Robert Hardy. His performance as Chorus in our very first production of Henry V helped to raise the festival’s profile enormously and set it on the road to becoming one of the premier outdoor Shakespeare festivals in Europe.
“On behalf of everyone at Stafford Gatehouse Theatre and Stafford Festival Shakespeare, I would like to pay tribute to a fine actor and a wonderful man. We owe Robert a huge debt of gratitude and he will be sorely missed.”
For more information about Stafford Festival Shakespeare visit www.staffordfestivalshakespeare.com