Northern Ireland news

Tributes paid to actor and playwright Sam McCready

Sam McCready, pictured in 2014 at the Launch of The EastSide Arts Festival, has passed away. Picture by Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker

BELFAST actor and playwright Sam McCready was last night described as a man who had a "profound impact on the theatre world" following his death.

His family led tributes to "an amazing man" after he died in the US on Sunday night with many describing how he had "influenced generations of actors".

Born in 1936, he grew up in east Belfast and began his acting career at the Lyric Theatre where he first took to the stage in the 1950s and his exceptional talent was spotted.

He was invited to join the Lyric Theatre Trust in 1960, which eventually lead to the establishment of the theatre where he later became artistic director.

A former teacher, he inspired the next generation of writers and performers during his time as a teacher at Orangfield Boys High School. He also lectured at Bangor University in Wales, where one of his students, Danny Boyle, went on to become a world famous director.

He was well-known for his one-man shows, including The Great Yeats! and Percy French: Melodies of Unforgotten Years, and established the Two-for-One Productions, a touring company specialising in small-scale productions, along with his wife Joan.

In a statement, his son Richard said "the world has lost an amazing man, a poet, a playwright, an author, an actor, a director, a brother, a father, a husband, a mentor to all".

The Lyric Theatre, which will be paying tribute to Mr McCready from the stage after performances of Sweeney Todd and Ruby today, said he was "in every sense a renaissance man of the theatre, his great talents included actor, director, designer, writer, painter and drama teacher".

"His profound impact on the theatre world here is vast and far reaching and his commitment to a creative life in all its aspects is inspiring and unique," it said.

"He worked right up until relatively recently, his energy was truly extraordinary. He will be much missed by all his friends, colleagues and students and his passing closes another chapter on the inspiring story of that firebrand generation that founded the Lyric theatre.

"His legacy will reverberate for years to come."

Roisin McDonough of the Arts Council said he was a "pivotal figure in Northern Ireland culture, and his influence on the shape of professional theatre here cannot be overstated".

"He was a great actor, director and theatre-maker in his own right and, as actor, mentor, teacher and friend, he dedicated a lifetime to encouraging younger actors to reach their own creative potential and inspired many of our finest actors who would go on to achieve world renown."

DUP Arlene Foster said she said was "very sorry to hear about the death of the playwright, author, painter and actor Sam McCready - a renaissance man from Belfast.

"He will be missed by the many who enjoyed his performances, paintings and writings here in NI."

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