Alan Plater CBE, FRSL (15 April 1935 – 25 June 2010)

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Alan Plater CBE, FRSL (15 April 1935 – 25 June 2010)Alan Plater CBE, the prolific dramatist and screenwriter, who was an Honorary Vice-President of NYJO and had been a Board Member for many years, passed away last Friday.

His longstanding association with NYJO came about after he saw the band play Hull, back in the days of Guy Barker.

More recently he is seen here with a small group of NYJO alumni (from the right): Tom Cawley, Dave Foster, Corrina Silvester, Sumudu Jayatilaka, Paul Jones and Music Director Mark Armstrong.

Alan’s passion for jazz extended beyond NYJO – among the 200 full-length dramas he wrote and produced for stage, screen and radio were jazz infused dramas ‘The Beiderbecke Trilogy’, ‘Last of the Blonde Bombshells’, which boasted Dame Judi Dench playing saxophone (!), and ‘Misterioso’. He also produced two CDs of Jazz with Alan Barnes.

For another jazz-infused screenplay of anecdotes about his meetings with jazz musicians during the course of his life – ‘Doggin’ Around’ – he involved NYJO in the production of the soundtrack.  He also reviewed NYJO’s albums – his last review of the Big Band Christmas album in ‘News from NYJO’ included an appreciative: ‘O come let us adore them’.

Alan is quoted as saying “When I write, I put on Ellington’s Harlem Airshaft – that tells me all I need to know”… Co-incidentally, NYJO2’s recent workshop with the Lincoln Centre Jazz Orchestra also revolved around Harlem Airshaft, on the basis “that’s all you need to know”.

Another beautiful quote, from Theatre Quarterly 1977; ‘Twenty-Five Years Hard: a Playwright’s Personal Retrospective’, sums up why Alan liked Jazz so much: “I discovered what as a native Geordie I should have known all along – that in everyday speech there is a richness and music that makes the voice the most powerful and sensitive instrument for human emotion: and that this exists as a tool for the dramatist at its most useful when the voice speaks with a local accent or dialect”.

NYJO extends its sincere sympathy to Alan’s wife Shirley and all the Plater family.

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