Theatre Director John Tiffany and Actor Alan Cumming put champion of Scottish Theatre on centre stage

Hollywood and Broadway star Alan Cumming gave a lecture at the University of Glasgow on Sunday 8 December 2019 celebrating Scotland’s great theatre traditions and the life and work of one of its champions, the late Dr Alasdair Cameron.

Theatre director John Tiffany, whose credits include Harry Potter & the Cursed Child and Black Watch, asked his friend Alan to give the Cameron Lecture. John created the lecture in memory of his tutor, mentor and friend Dr Cameron who died 25 years ago this year.

John, said: "Alasdair had a huge heart and wasn’t afraid of wearing it. He taught me to aspire to be genuine in a cynical world - and that there’s nothing wrong with sentiment - as long as it’s good sentiment. He was also wonderfully kind "

He added: "Carrying Alasdair’s coffin at his funeral was one of the proudest moments of my life, although his death at the age of 41 was heart-breaking and far, far too premature. Yet it was through his death that Alasdair taught me possibly his most valuable lesson - that we truly do live on through other people. Ever since his passing, I, and many, many others, have ensured that Alasdair lives on through us in our work, in our play and in our lives."

At the lecture, the multi-award-winning star of Hollywood, Broadway and television Alan Cumming - from Bond movies and The Good Wife to Sydney Opera House - paid tribute to Scottish Theatre, and said: "Today I have spoken about how Scotland has formed me as a man, how the Scottish theatre has formed me as an artist.

"I am a product of Scotland. Had I not been born here, if I had been born in America or even England now, I won’t be standing on this stage and won’t be an actor. My Mum and Dad won’t have been able to afford to send me to the Conservatoire or a drama. I went and studied and my Mum and Dad didn’t have to pay for me in fact I got a full grant. I stand before you, a product of the generosity and values of the Scottish taxpayers."

"I moved away from this country and because of that I feel the great love and respect the world has for Scotland - for its people, for the Scottish theatre and for the Scottish spirit, I am proud to stand here before you tonight and tell you I am the sum of all my artistic Scottish parts."

John Tiffany and Alan Cumming collaborated on productions of The Bacchae and Macbeth for the National Theatre of Scotland. The Bacchae premiered at the Edinburgh International Festival in 2007 before touring Scotland and was invited to the Lincoln Center Festival in New York. Macbeth premiered at Tramway in 2013 and transferred to the Barrymore Theater on Broadway.

Dr John Tiffany, OBE

John Tiffany was Associate Director of the National Theatre of Scotland from its inception until 2013 and enjoys a stellar career in theatre, winning armfuls of Olivier Awards and Tonys for his productions. His credits include the internationally successful productions Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, The Glass Menagerie and the musical Once. He created Black Watch for the National Theatre of Scotland, widely regarded as one of the seminal theatre works of the 21st century. John was awarded an honorary doctorate from University of Glasgow in 2017 for his contribution to theatre and in 2018 he was awarded an OBE for services to drama. John continues to play and active role in the life of the University and his generosity and vision have been instrumental in conceiving and delivering this special lecture.

Alan Cumming, OBE

A graduate of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, Alan Cumming is also the author of five books and has been the recipient more than 40 awards for his humanitarianism and social activism, including the OBE in 2009 for his work in the field of LGBT rights in the US and the UK. Alan is also a Tony and Olivier award winning theatre actor, and a multiple Golden Globe, Emmy and SAG award nominated screen actor. His many TV credits include Sex and the City, The High Life, and Sesame Street. He played Eli Gold in seven seasons of the The Good Wife, and starred in the CBS series Instinct, which premiered in March 2018 and made history by being the first ever US network drama to have a gay leading character.

Dr Alasdair Cameron

Dr Alasdair Cameron was remarkable, inspiring, ferociously expert and wickedly funny. His fervour for Scottish theatre stirred a generation of creators who have gone on to become influential figures of stage and screen world-wide. In June 1994, Dr Cameron died after a short illness. He was 41. Read his full University of Glasgow story here.

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