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Letter: The pioneering work of Bryan Bailey; AGENDA.

Byline: KEITH GASCOIGNE

Dear Editor, No-one could, or should, attempt to diminish what Anthony Richardson and Trevor Nunn brought to the Belgrade Theatre in the early 1960s, but nor should we forget the ground-breaking work of Bryan Bailey, the theatre's first director, who was tragically killed on the M1 in 1960 (Sir Trevor goes back to where it all began, Post January 9).

It was Bailey who initiated the Belgrade's policy of presenting new plays (a notable example was the Arnold Wesker trilogy which had its first performances from 1958, with actors such as Frank Finlay and Joan Plowright heading the casts), and of giving new opportunities to authors, directors and actors (Bill Owen, Shelagh Delaney, Alan Howard, Charles Kay, Rosemary Leach, Richard Briers, Patricia Routledge, Cyril Luck-ham, Colin Blakely, Patsy Rowlands spring to mind).

Roots was, incidentally, one of two successive new Belgrade plays to be taken up by a London management.

Bailey also commissioned a play about Coventry, Never Had It So Good, which encapsulated contemporary attitudes; it was just one of several others to transfer to Joan Littlewood's Theatre Royal, Stratford East or to the Royal Court.

He also began the theatre's significant local involvement through a programme of outreach in Coventry and area schools and factories which led directly to a notable Gulbenkian report "Young People and the Theatre" by the theatre's assistant director Derek Newton (published in 1961).

All this was recognised by Anthony Richardson on taking over, when he paid tribute to Bryan Bailey for encouraging new plays and young audiences.

KEITH GASCOIGNE

Lapworth
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Title Annotation:Letters
Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Jan 12, 2008
Words:260
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