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Tribute to Roger Burdett

Roger Burdett was a good and constant friend of The Watermill over many years. It was my great privilege to serve on the committee of the Friends of the Watermill with him, and my great luck to be able to hand over the reins to him as Chairman after my own term in office.

His own Chairmanship, and his time as a member of the theatre Board, were in the vital early years after the theatre had been bought from the Sargant family. His calm, thoughtful approach was absolutely what was needed through a time of such change and did much to keep the Friends engaged and involved in the theatre. And he didn’t stop there – he became one of the Watermill’s first Ambassadors, doing much to promote it to the communities of the Lambourn Valley where he was already a legend for his Lambourn Theatre Group trips to performances many and varied in theatres far and wide.

He was never afraid to get down to the basics of promoting The Watermill – an abiding memory is of working the street with him at a Hungerford Victorian evening one December, pushing brochures and flyers to the punters. Easy? Well, yes, on a good night, but not in a torrential, evening-long downpour. And Roger had, typically, gone the extra mile by wearing costume – a long, monk-like cloak which covered him from head to foot. Unfortunately the fabric carried the water up from the puddles by capillary action so that by the end of the evening Roger was entirely sodden, and bowed down by carrying several kilos of extra weight – but never a murmer of complaint.

Roger knew his theatre so well – he was a connoisseur of plays and performances, with an encyclopedic knowledge, as well as being a fine actor himself. He always appreciated, seldom criticised – he knew how hard the performer’s lot could be and was always kind and supportive in his response. I know that all of us who knew him will miss him terribly, and send our love and support to Wendy and the family.

 

Tony Ayers