Ivor Benjamin obituary

Other lives: Director with a special interest in physical theatre and new writing

My friend Ivor Benjamin, who has died aged 63 after suffering from multiple myeloma, was a theatre director and writer with a particular interest in devised theatre, physical theatre and new writing. He directed more than 60 professional stage productions and wrote 14 plays. His 1988 adaptation of the Japanese short story Rashomon toured Ireland, the US, Singapore and the Philippines.

From 2005 to 2015 Ivor was chairman of the Directors Guild of Great Britain, and then helped create the Directors Charitable Foundation, which aims to train and support directors in theatre, film and television. He became a trustee of the charity and worked tirelessly for it until his illness prevented him from doing so.

Born to Goldie (nee Blinder), a secretary, and Sidney Benjamin, an actuary, in Archway, north London, Ivor went to Haberdashers’ Aske’s boys’ school in Elstree, Hertfordshire, then studied English at Trinity College, Cambridge. In 1979 he won best student director at the National Student Drama festival; his prize was a year as assistant director at the Belgrade Youth theatre, Coventry. He became a staff director of the main company (1982-84), with productions including Willy Russell’s Stags and Hens and The Coventry Mystery Plays.

Over the next decade he directed in drama schools and theatres, including Alice in Wonderland for the Octagon, Bolton, Dead Men by Mike Stott at Birmingham Rep, Animal Farm and Chicago for the Manitou Arts Centre in Ontario, Canada, and, at Harrogate theatre, Alan Bennett’s Forty Years On, John Godber’s Teechers and the UK cast premiere of Athol Fugard’s My Children! My Africa!

In later years, he developed an interest in stage combat, working as a fight director for drama school productions. He promoted Chinese film in Britain as the chairman for several years of the China Image Film festival in London and was on the international jury at Beijing International Film festival in 2013.

Along with his love of theatre and the arts, Ivor pursued an interest in computing, taking a master’s in business systems at City University in London in 1993. He had a passion for motorbikes and bicycles, both riding and dismantling them.

A witty, warm and kind man with a forensically sharp mind, he cherished family life with his wife, Amanda (nee Huntley), whom he married in 1996, and their children, Jilly and Joe, who all survive him.

Susannah Kraft Levene

The GuardianTramp

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