Obituary: Celia Gore-Booth

Celia Gore-Booth, actress, born 6 January 1946, married 1984 Douglas Gill (one son), died London 7 August 1992.

FEW actresses of the last two decades embody more originality of spirit and courage in adventure than Celia Gore-Booth. Her extraordinary inventiveness, as wild as her waist-length hair, and her insatiable curiosity for the new, led to remarkable collaborations with leading British and European theatre companies.

She was born on Twelfth Night in London in 1946. Her father, the diplomat Lord Gore-Booth, declared in his autobiography that he always knew she was destined to be an actress. She performed, aged 17, in Delhi to Nehru and his daughter, studied Indian classical dance and played the clarinet with the Delhi Symphony Orchestra. This eclectic breadth of interest became a hallmark.

She spent three years at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (LAMDA). Her inquiring disposition led her to Paris and the Ecole Jacques Lecoq, where the emphasis on a European tradition struck a formative chord. Leaving Lecoq in 1970 she joined Jerome Savary's 'Grand Magic Circus', touring shows from the Munich Olympics to the London Roundhouse. Her connections with Europe remained strong, working with the performance artist Alberto Vidal in Barcelona, and in 1979 with Luc Bondy (Director of the Schaubuhne, Berlin) playing in a German Macbeth in Cologne.

Coming home in 1975, she co- founded one of the most exciting theatrical adventures of the 1970s, 'Shared Experience'. Here in the Arabian Nights Trilogy which toured from 1975 to 1977, with no set and essential costumes, it was the creative abilities of the actors which transported the audience. But it was Celia Gore-Booth, the director Mike Alfreds recalls, who insisted on a performance at 1.20am on Southampton station, when the train home to London was delayed for several hours. The previously depressed passengers were delighted.

Next came the surreally witty Tip Top Condition and Circus Lumiere from another pioneering company, Lumiere and Son, directed by Hilary Westlake, and written by David Gale. Gale said:

Ringmistress Celia would don a long, black shoulderless dress radiating energy, elegance and strength. Later in the show she shed the dress, slipped into a body suit and wrestled the five male performers to the ground, terrorising them with her whiplash hair. Her radiance was not a trick of the light, she was a rare creature who loved without effort and warmed all those who worked with her.

She was always in the vanguard. With Welfare State International, a performance company, who work on spectacular outdoor events, she 'Raised the Titanic', in the first Lift Season in 1983, and went on to direct several of their shows. She became, in the director John Fox's words, 'part of the family'.

And when Richard Jones broke convention with his acclaimed production of Ostrovsky's Too Clever by Half at the Old Vic (1988), Gore-Booth was there in the role of an outsize magical concierge.

Her performance as God in Philippe Gaulier's No Son of Mine was inspirational. It scaled heights of terrifying comedy few actresses dare to contemplate, and was one of her favourite roles. As much at home with new writing as new performance, she led a season of new plays in 1987 at the Traverse Theatre in Edinburgh.

With Theatre de Complicite from 1986 to 1991 she created roles in five shows, Alice in Wonderland (The Duchess), Please, Please, Please, Anything for a Quiet Life (also filmed for television), Foodstuff and The Visit, which played at the National Theatre. Her inestimable contribution to the company was not merely as a superb, dangerous actress, but as a writer and galvaniser of ideas, events and people.

To the multitude of companies she worked tirelessly with, and campaigned for, her loss is incalculable. But her freedom of spirit and particular generosity will be a constant reminder to us of what is possible in our own lives.

(Photograph omitted)

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Project Manager (HR)- Bristol - Upto £400 p/day

£350 - £400 per annum + competitive: Orgtel: Project Manager (specializing in ...

HR Business Partner (Maternity Cover 12 Months)

£30000 - £34000 Per Annum 25 days holiday, Private healthcare: Clearwater Peop...

Project Manager (Procurement & Human Resources)

Unpaid: Cancer Research UK: If you’re a professional in project management, lo...

Geography Teacher

£85 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: We require a teacher of Geogr...

Day In a Page

Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices
Could our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?

Could smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases?

Health Kit and Google Fit have been described as "the beginning of a health revolution"
Ryanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?

Can we learn to love Ryanair again?

Four recent travellers give their verdicts on the carrier's improved customer service
Billionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers

Spanx launches range of jeans

The jeans come in two styles, multiple cuts and three washes and will go on sale in the UK in October
10 best over-ear headphones

Aural pleasure: 10 best over-ear headphones

Listen to your favourite tracks with this selection, offering everything from lambskin earmuffs to stainless steel
Commonwealth Games 2014: David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end

Commonwealth Games

David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end
UCI Mountain Bike World Cup 2014: Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings

UCI Mountain Bike World Cup

Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings
Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star