Today we announced the death of Sir Antony Sher, Honorary Associate Artist and husband of Artistic Director, Gregory Doran.

Antony was diagnosed with terminal cancer earlier this year with Gregory taking compassionate leave from his role in September to care for Antony.

Antony Sher dressed in black on crutches with a humped back, looking past the camera
Antony Sher as Richard III in the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in 1984, directed by Bill Alexander and designed by William Dudley.
Photo by Reg Wilson © RSC Browse and license our images

Catherine Mallyon, RSC Executive Director and Erica Whyman, Acting Artistic Director, said: We are deeply saddened by this news and our thoughts and sincere condolences are with Greg, and with Antony’s family and their friends at this devastating time.

'Antony had a long association with the RSC and a hugely celebrated career on stage and screen. Antony’s last production with the Company was in the two-hander Kunene and The King, written by his friend and fellow South African actor, writer and activist, John Kani.

'Other recent productions at the RSC include King Lear, Falstaff in the Henry IV plays and Willy Loman in Death of a Salesman. Earlier landmark performances included Leontes in The Winter’s Tale, Iago in Othello, Prospero in The Tempest and the title roles in Macbeth, Tamburlaine the Great, Peter Flannery’s Singer, Cyrano de Bergerac, as well as his career defining Richard III. He also attracted critical acclaim for his performances at the National Theatre in his one man show Primo, Pam Gems’ Stanley (Olivier Award and TONY nominated) and Uncle Vanya with Ian McKellen. In the West End in Torch Song Trilogy (Olivier award winning for this and Richard III), at the Royal Court in Carol Churchill’s Cloud Nine and his first big hit playing Ringo Starr in Willy Russell’s John, Paul, George, Ringo and Bert; and on film in Mrs Brown and on television in Malcolm Bradbury’s The History Man.

'Antony was a widely exhibited artist and author of multiple books including the theatre journals Year of the King, Woza Shakespeare!, co-written with Gregory Doran, four novels including Middlepost, three plays, a television screenplay and his autobiography Beside Myself.

'Antony was deeply loved and hugely admired by so many colleagues. He was a ground-breaking role model for many young actors, and it is impossible to comprehend that he is no longer with us. We will ensure friends far and wide have the chance to share tributes and memories in the days to come.'

RSC Chair Shriti Vadera added: 'Our hearts go out to Greg today, as on behalf of all RSC Board members, past and present, we express our deep sadness, affection and condolences to him and other members of Antony’s family. Antony was beloved in the RSC and touched and enriched the lives of so many people.'

Susie Sainsbury, Artists’ Associate and former RSC Deputy Chair said: 'Tony and Greg were together for over 30 years, and their careers as actor and director have brought them international acclaim, both individually and in the many productions where they worked together so productively.

'Tony will be remembered for many exceptional roles on stage and screen, but also for his passion for painting and drawing, which occupied his days increasingly in recent years. The last decade – with Greg as Artistic Director of the RSC – has been spent mainly in Stratford-upon-Avon, where Tony was delighted to have his own studio at their house, and we will remember them together not only in the theatre but as genial and generous hosts, with endless good food and fascinating conversations.

'Their many friends and colleagues will each have particular memories - mine is an image of the two of them, bearded and smiling, on the window seat in their sitting room, utterly content in each other’s company. It is impossible to imagine one without the other, and our thoughts and deep sympathy are with Greg and their families.'

Actor and Playwright John Kani writes: 'Both Tony Sher and I were born when our country South Africa was the worst place a child could be born let alone to be raised by parents who worked very hard to prepare their children for a difficult future - Apartheid South Africa. By the Grace his God and my Ancestors, like Romeo and Juliet, we found each other in 1973. We travelled together as compatriots, comrades in the struggle for a better South Africa, as fellow artists and we both had the honour of celebrating together 25 years of South Africa’s Democracy in my latest play Kunene and the King. I am at peace with you my friend and myself.  Exit my King. Your Brother.'

Gregory remains on compassionate leave and is expected to return to work in 2022.

Read further tributes to Sir Antony Sher by RSC artists

November 2021
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