Pete Postlethwaite OBE

ImageImageThey say that if you remember the Swinging Sixties you weren’t there. According to reports, the decade had been one of revolution, reform, innovation, motivation and occasionally, moderation. The Beatles were strutting their stuff through Liverpool and across continents. England won the World Cup and in Rome, the Second Vatican Council blew the cobwebs off the Institutional Church.

While John Lennon and Yoko Ono were imploring us to give peace a chance, Anglo -Irish relations were smouldering into what would become a bitter and violent conflict. And yet, life went on.
 
In a small corner of South Manchester, as the ‘Swinging Sixties’ drew to a close the girls at Loreto College Manchester were preparing for their Christmas Play. This in itself was revolutionary: girls in a convent school dressing up and playing at playing!
 
So the whole school was buzzing when the young, fresh-faced drama teacher undertook the lavish production of Robert Bolt’s Play A Man for all Seasons.
With an all-girl cast, an inexperienced teacher and with no tradition of ‘acting’ in the classical sense, it was a recipe for disaster and would add to the chaos of the world outside the high walls of this very respectable convent school.
Not so. The acting was superb and the serious challenges which the play presented in terms of content, language and style were met admirably by the Upper Sixth Drama group under the direction of their teacher, Pete Postlethwaite. This was Hulme, remember, not Stratford –upon-Avon. The audience left the theatre with a sense of wonder and awe that such a performance could move, entertain and mesmerise.
 
So it was with great sadness and some nostalgia that we learnt of the untimely death of Pete Postlethwaite. We are happy to have known him before he joined the Royal Shakespeare Company, before he was awarded an OBE for services to Drama, and before Steven Spielberg called him, ‘The best actor in the world.’ And whenever we talk about the ‘Swinging Sixties’ those of us who remember and were there in the audience at Loreto College in December 1969 will remember Mr Postlethwaite with pride and affection.
 
May he rest in peace.
 
Peter William Postlethwaite
16th February 1946 - 2nd January 2011

 

Photo: Pete Posthelwaite by Dave Morris