Theatre producer Born
DAVID MacLennan, who died yesterday in
Describing MacLennan as the country's "top theatre producer" is not hyperbolic. His list of achievements in theatre over the past 40 years range from the remarkable to the astounding.
The flamboyant character, famous for wearing sunburst cord trousers, a 1950s Tour de France moustache and red body warmer, set up 7:84
And in the past ten years he has developed the hugely successful Play, Pie and a Pint lunchtime theatre event at
His reputation in the acting world was such he was able to attract major talent in the form of
The son of doctors, (his father was the eminent obstetrician Sir
"I've loved theatre since I was around six-years-old and my parents took me to the King's Theatre to see Peter Pan," MacLennan recalled in a recent interview with The Herald.
"As the little
"Before I knew it, I was standing on my seat shouting at the top of my voice. And I've been captivated by the magic ever since."
His parents who lived in the west end of
"I'd visit Jimmy in his dressing room, with all the wonderful mirrors, costumes and make-up boxes then go backstage and see the Bluebell Girls dancers close up, with their legs all the way up to their oxters," he recalled.
As a boy MacLennan made his stage debut at boarding school, in Charley's Aunt, playing Lord Fancourt Babberley - in drag. He'd fallen in love with acting. "I don't think my parents fell in love with the idea, though," he says. "They would have been happier with a stethoscope around my neck as opposed to a string of beads."
In 1969, with his parents' approval, MacLennan went on to study acting at the
However, he came to appreciate his role could be one of theatre producer and in 1971 joined with
With his troop of actors, including
The agitprop ("Our politics was Marxist-MacLennanist," said Paterson) captured the mood of the period.
In 1978, MacLennan was now an established playwright as well as a director/producer and went on to set up renowned theatre company Wildcat, another politically-inspired production unit, with friend and musician
"We never got rich, but we never stopped touring," MacLennan recalled."I'm so lucky I came into the business when it was growing. It was fun, sharing attitudes and politics."
His achievements didn't end there. MacLennnan went on to set up the
In 1989, he opened the
In 2003, MacLennan took a trip to
The idea became a phenomenal success, with MacLennan going on to produce 337 plays over a ten-year period. Married to actress
When MacLennan was diagnosed with the terminal muscle-wasting illness MND, the news conveyed by his consultant a year ago, it did not blunt his enthusiasm for theatre.
"We were still having creative differences about the Oran Mor summer panto just a few days ago," says co-writer Anderson. "He loved his work. And he loved his life."
MacLennan, who once appeared on stage wearing nothing but a giant nappy and a pleased expression, revealed that to be the case. "I've been remarkably lucky," he said of his life.
"I think one of the things about getting this wretched illness is it focuses the mind on how lucky I've been with my work, my family and my friends."
MacLennan leaves a formidable legacy. His lunchtime theatre concept A Play, A Pie and a Pint is now being copied around the world.
Co-productions now operate throughout the
Oran Mor writers' efforts have been translated into Italian and Russian, performed in
Indeed Coltrane cites MacLennan as the reason for his first return to theatre in 15 years, appearing during Oran Mor's second season.
In February this year, MacLennan admitted he would have come up with a different ending for his Final Act. "I can imagine choosing to die in the middle of the Tay, with a salmon on the line and a hip flask in my pocket, going out to a giant heart attack aged 104," he said with a wry smile.
MacLennan is survived by wife