Prominent theatre practitioner and academic Professor Mike Pearson has died. An Emeritus Professor at Aberystwyth University, he had a long and distinguished career in theatre spanning back over half a century.
Despite training as an archaeologist at University College Cardiff in the late 1960s and early 1970s, Professor Pearson began working as a professional theatre maker at RAT Theatre and Transitions Trust community arts project in 1971.
Two years later he became co-director of Cardiff Laboratory Theatre alongside Lis Hughes Jones, and in 1981 the pair founded the Brith Gof Theatre Company, where he spent 18 years. He moved with the company across Wales, first to Aberystwyth, then to Cardiff, and finally to Lampeter.
He became a lecturer at the Department of Theatre, Film and Television Studies at Aberystwyth University in 1997 and held the title of Professor of Performance Studies from 1999 until 2014.
Professor Pearson also collaborated with National Theatre Wales and was convenor for over-60s theatre group Good News From The Future. Throughout his professional life he created theatre as a solo artist and regulatory worked with Mike Brookes, the award-winning artists, director and designer. In his academic career he also gained PhD in 2006 on ‘Convergence of performance and archaeology’, and in 2009 he became an honorary fellow of Falmouth University. He was a Major Research Fellow for the Leverhulme Trust between 2012 and 2014.
Professor Anwen Jones, pro vice-chancellor for the Faculty of Arts and Social Science at Aberystwyth University said: “It was with great sadness that we heard of the death of Emeritus Professor Mike Pearson. His contribution to the world of theatre – as a member of the university’s department of Theatre, Film and Television Studies and a progressive producer and director – has been remarkable and put Welsh theatre firmly on the international stage.
“He was an inspiration to generations of students who studied here at Aberystwyth University, and Brith Gof productions such as Pax and Y Gododdin will be remembered for their striking and challenging visual content, and the exceptional experiences they offered to audiences. We extend our deepest sympathies to his wife Heike, who is also a former member of staff here at Aberystwyth University.”
Prof Simon Banham, who leads Aberystwyth University’s Department of Theatre, Film and Television Studies, said: “It is no exaggeration to say that Mike’s work as a theatre maker and in the field of performance studies has influenced a generation of practitioners both in the UK and on an international stage.
“Through his productions and his writings Mike’s influence has reached a global audience of artists and academics. His work has inspired many of us over the years, those that studied under him or worked alongside him here in Aberystwyth as well as those that collaborated with him professionally, we will always be grateful for that experience.”
A spokesperson for National Theatre Wales said: “We are so sad to hear the news of the death of our friend Mike Pearson. A pioneer of theatre, with an unwavering commitment to ask questions and keep pushing at the edges of what theatre is and can be.
“His influence is intrinsically woven into our DNA and that of the wider NTW family that has sprung from the foundations he lay as one of the founding artists of NTW. All our love, respect, and deepest condolences to Mike’s family at this sad time.”
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