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In Memoriam: Vince Oliver

I was very sorry to hear of the death of Vince Oliver and sadder that SLT has only just received the news. Apparently Vince died last year in January 2018. He had had MS for over 15 years and had been in a wheelchair for a long time.

Vince joined SLT in 1979 and stayed until 1982. In that time, he acted in 6 plays, including The Day after the Fair, (1980), in which he had a good role of Charles Bradford. In another interesting role he played the Surgeon in Female Transport, (1982), a character sympathetic to the convicts’ plight while delivering regular doses of history in the middle of his scenes (the author, a local writer, Steve Gooch’s work tends to be very political).

The Day After the Fair (1980)

Pippin (1980)

However, Vince came into his own once he started directing. He started with Ball Boys in Prompt Corner in 1980, and made his main stage debut with Kennedy’s Children, (1980), a powerful piece of theatre. This was followed by Ashes by David Rudkin, an uncompromising piece dealing with infertility as well as Northern Ireland. It also showcased the SLT debut of Fred Ridgeway in one of the two leads. The production was repeated a year later. He later directed Krapp’s Last Tape as well as Bodies, so had a varied and solid body of work to his name.

He worked backstage as ASM and on sound for a few shows, often helping with set builds too as he enjoyed getting involved in a variety of activities at SLT.

When Vince first arrived at SLT he was working at St George’s Hospital in Tooting, but didn’t advertise this, as he spent his time in the mortuary dealing with dead bodies! Later he decided to retrain and got a degree in psychology. He spent his second year in Boulder, Colorado, which he thoroughly enjoyed. After he left SLT he had a successful career as a psychologist for some time, before he developed MS. He later got married and moved to Derbyshire.

I was good friends with Vince and acted on stage with him several times, as well as becoming his AD for Kennedy’s Children and PA for Bodies. He was a very private person, with a wicked and quirky sense of humour. He didn’t take himself seriously, and was always happy to try new things. He particularly enjoyed directing, and produced lively and challenging productions. He will be much missed.

– Jeanette Hoile