Obituary: Maurice Daniels
Saturday 06 February 1993
MAURICE DANIELS spent nearly 30 years working for the Royal Shakespeare Theatre Company. His previous work included six years with the Compass Players (1946-52) and two years with the Century Theatre (1952-54). Both were touring companies and as well as acting Daniels was stage manager and tour organiser. His roles included Iago, Comus and Mephistopheles.
When he joined the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre (as it was then called) in 1955 he was the stage manager for the Gielgud/ Ashcroft European tour of Much Ado About Nothing and King Lear. He then became stage director to Glen Byam Shaw.
In the 1960s with the Royal Shakespeare Company, as it had become, he was a lighting designer for such productions as Tyrone Guthrie's All's Well and became assistant director to Peter Hall. Daniels directed the revivals of The Devils with Virginia McKenna and The Taming of the Shrew with Vanessa Redgrave. He then became the company's casting director and then the planning controller responsible for the company's overall workplan, as well as being the negotiator with Equity and the Musicians Union, a role he continued under Trevor Nunn's artistic directorship until 1976, when he then became development administrator.
This newly created post gave Daniels the opportunity to expand the RSC's extra-mural activities. He set up Theatre Go Round and the first RSC small-scale tour in 1978 under Ian McKellen's artistic leadership, performing Twelfth Night and The Three Sisters with only 15 actors, visiting theatre-less towns and non-theatrical venues.
In 1975, while in the United States, he devised and supervised an intensive education programme involving company members for the Universities of New York, Denver and Omaha. This programme covered all aspects of Shakespeare in performance and proved a springboard for the RSC's education work in England, for which Daniels was made responsible. In 1977 he set up the first RSC season in Newcastle upon Tyne, now an important regular feature in the RSC calendar.
Daniels finally retired in 1984 and there then followed perhaps the most personally fulfilling part of his life. He toured the US teaching and lecturing on his great passion, Shakespeare in performance, and in 1985 directed Much Ado About Nothing for Niagara University, for whom he was to direct four more productions. Thus he became able to share his vast knowledge and skills acquired during his long career in the theatre combined with his remarkable ability to communicate with warmth, humour and compassion as teacher and director. In 1987 he took up a residency for one semester at Cornell University, even acting the role of Don Armado in Love's Labours Lost. His final production in 1992 was A Midsummer Night's Dream, once again at Niagara University.
He was also theatre adviser to the editors of the New Cambridge Shakespeare. One of his most valued professional relationships was with the Shakespeare Institute at Birmingham University, of which he became an Associate Fellow. In 1982 he was presented with an honorary degree of Master of Arts by the university. When presenting him to the Chancellor, the editor of the University of Birmingham Gazette wrote of Maurice Daniels: 'He proclaims that culture is a burning flame within us which the artist has to quicken. It is his achievement that wherever he has been and whatever he has done he has made that flame burn more brightly.'
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