Former RTÉ drama director Christopher Fitz-Simon gave a masterful presentation on how he fell in love with the theatre as a schoolboy to an RTS Republic of Ireland event at RTÉ in Dublin at the end of September.
In “How not to train for drama – Hamlet without the prince”, Fitz-Simon recalled his life as a stage-struck teenager, including a visit to a 1950 production of Hamlet by the legendary director Tyrone Guthrie at the Gate Theatre.
The production had been announced as being “in modern dress”, which the Dublin theatre critics snidely attributed to the management’s desire to save money on costumes. In the event, the cast was sumptuously dressed in Schiaparelli and Chanel.
Fitz-Simon began his career as a TV director at RTÉ in 1961 at the birth of Teilifís Éireann’s service. He is the author of a large number of broadcast plays, including a BBC Italia Prize entry (The Dead) and two RTE Italia Prize entries (Vina and A Snowman in July)
He has held posts as artistic director of the Lyric Theatre, Belfast, the Irish Theatre Company and the National Theatre (Abbey and Peacock Theatres, Dublin). Recently, Fitz-Simon published the well-received Rise Above! – Letters from Tyrone Guthrie.