Death of Annie Castledine at the age of 77

Published: 7 June 2016

Annie Castledine, who was artistic director of the old Derby Playhouse from 1987 until 1990, has died aged 77.

Born in 1939, Castledine grew up in Yorkshire and initially worked as a teacher. She attended the University of York as a mature student and turned to theatre directing in the 1970s.

Sarah Brigham, current artistic director and chief executive of Derby Theatre (formerly Derby Playhouse), said, “Annie was fearless in her programming of Derby Playhouse, encouraging innovation, work of the highest quality and encouraging audiences to take as many risks as we ask artists to.”

Playwright Mike Kenny was an actor during Castledine’s time at Derby. He said, “I don't think they make them like Annie any more. She commissioned me to write Hansel and Gretel for Derby Playhouse, when I'd been an actor and had only really written one play. I bless her for that faith that kicked me into a new career.

“She had a belief in the creativity of ordinary people and never compromised on a parallel belief in excellence. She promoted women's work and diversity when it wasn't fashionable. She threw together volatile groups of creative people and often produced magic and sometimes, it has to be said, chaos.

“If you were an actor in her rehearsal room, every day was like having a full house—the quality of the attention she paid you was as enormous as she was as a personality.

“I did smile when I heard that she died on the same day as Mohammad Ali. If those two met at the Pearly Gates, I wouldn't fancy his chances. She'll be missed.”

Steve Orme