Thursday, 25 November 2010

George Pensotti 1937 - 2010

To Moscow...To Moscow... was written by George Pensotti. Sadly George died on the 22nd of August this year after a period of ill health.

George (pictured below on the right, with Gregory Cox), had an impressive career as an actor, both on stage and on television where he made appearances in episodes of No Hiding Place, The Wednesday Play, Grange Hill, Holby Blue, Doctors and culminated in his playing an array of judges.

In addition to being an actor and writer, George was also a much loved director and teacher. Having taught some of the founder members of the New Factory Of The Eccentric Actor, George kept track of their work and after seeing General Strike 1926, he decided to write a play with them in mind. It was very clear to all concerned that To Moscow...To Moscow... was a labour of love for George (pictured below on the set of Privates On Parade).

I only really met George once, but we got on very well. It was at the first read-through of his script for To Moscow...To Moscow... and my abiding memory was that for the brief time we spoke, despite being in a busy rehearsal room with about thirty other actors, his attention was so focussed that whoever he spoke to felt like the most important person in the room.

Sadly he was in hospital during the performances and never got to see his work staged. He sent cards each night, the first was something along the lines of 'Break a leg', but the second stayed with me as it read "I'm sure you were all wonderful and awful last night". Naturally enough, the end of the play concerned Anton Chekhov's last days and the parallels were not lost on the cast.

Last Thursday, a memorial service was held for George at the Actor's Church in Covent Garden and fittingly it was a full house. Initially I felt slightly fraudulent being among people who knew him so much better than I, but one of the sentiments mentioned during the service was the line from Alan Bennett's The History Boys "Pass it on, boys, pass it on". This was mostly in reference to George's teaching, and although George never taught me directly, I have definitely benefited through the work I've done with the New Factory.

These (much better) obituaries were written for The Guardian and The Stage, by his wife, Diana Quay.

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