Tributes paid to playwright Oliver Emanuel

Playwright Oliver Emanuel
Image caption,Oliver Emanuel has died aged 43

Tributes have been paid to the playwright Oliver Emanuel, who has died at the age of 43.

He is known for creating a number of theatre and radio plays for BBC Radio 4 and the National Theatre of Scotland.

The playwright was diagnosed with brain cancer in May, but continued to share frank and humorous updates on social media.

Born in Kent, he moved to Glasgow in 2006 and became a vital part of the Scottish theatre scene.

A statement from the National Theatre of Scotland said: “We are devastated to learn about the passing of Oliver Emanuel.

“Olly wrote with profound insight, wit and lyricism in his many plays for the company, including The 306 Trilogy, Dragon and The Day I Swapped my Dad for Two Goldfish. His intelligence and compassion always shone through.

“Scottish theatre has lost a brilliant man who will be deeply missed.”

Oliver, affectionately known as Olly, studied English and Theatre at the University of Leeds.

His mother, a drama teacher, died when he was young, and it informed his writing on grief and loss.

Dragon and Tommy
Image caption,His play, Dragon, follows a grief-stricken boy who becomes friends with a dragon

He moved to Glasgow and started making a name for himself on the Scottish theatre scene.

His work for children includes Dragon, in which he was part of an international collaboration with NTS, Vox Motus and Tianjin People’s Art Theatre from China. The story about a lonely boy in Glasgow was told with puppetry, magic and music, and barely any words, a challenge for any writer but not for Olly.

He collaborated again with Jamie Harrison and Candice Edmunds of Vox Motus on Flight for the 2017 Edinburgh International Festival, which told the story of two brothers fleeing across Europe.

It used a revolving diorama, which is observed by audiences sitting in individual booths wearing headphones. The New York Times described it as “pulse pounding, immersive storytelling”

Another work “I am Tiger” for Imaginate festival is also about grief. It won a Critics Award for Scotland.

But it wasn’t only children’s shows that Olly Emanuel excelled at.

‘Dedicated’ to his craft

In 2013 he and composer Gareth Williams began work on a three part project about the three hundred and six British soldiers executed for cowardice, desertion and mutiny during the first world war.

I remember interviewing them at Cove Park as they considered which stories to focus on. Those notes – written and musical – went on to become The 306: Dawn, Day and Dusk.

Each section focused on a different part of the story, and took place in a different setting. The first in a barn on a farm in Perth in the early hours of the morning.

The Citizens Theatre and the Tron Theatre are among the organisations who have paid tribute today, along with a number of actors, writers and theatre makers and many mention his mentoring of other young writers.

Actor and writer Kieran Hurley said: “He was dedicated to his own craft and so invested in supporting other writers.”

The Scottish Society of Playwrights said: “He wasn’t with us for nearly as long as we wanted and needed him. He was a greatly talented writer and as everyone who met him and worked with him can testify, a hugely positive force in the world.”

The 306 Dusk
Image caption,The 306: Dawn, Day and Dusk tells the story of six soldiers executed during WWI

Writer Jo Clifford also praised his frankness in talking about his illness.

She wrote on her blog The Light Inside that she was anxious when Olly first mentioned having a seizure while playing with his children in a playpark.

“There was always a kind of courageous joyful curiosity about it. The kind the best artists have. The kind that says: look what’s happening to me. And yes, it is kind of awful but isn’t it fascinating? And isn’t life beautiful?” she wrote.

Theatre maker Tim Crouch described him as “a gentle genius”.

In addition to stage plays, he wrote a number of radio plays and a short film.

Filmmaker Sarah Senior said: “I’m deeply saddened to learn that Olly passed away. He wrote the first short film I ever made which also happens to be se

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