Adrian Jackson: On Cicely Berry's passing

Posted on: 19 October 2018

Written by: Adrian Jackson MBE

Photo of Cicely Berry / CREDIT: Royal Shakespeare Company

At Cardboard Citizens we are as sad as much of the rest of the theatre universe at the death of Cic Berry.  It was great to see that - as well as her stellar achievements with greats such as Brook and Bertolucci - her Guardian obituary also featured some of her less vaunted work, such as her championing of the Brazilian company Nós do Morro. In this category, she also helped and supported Cardboard Citizens at times, both in the form of advice and on a few occasions being in the room to deliver notes, on the two full-scale productions of Shakespeare plays we completed in collaboration with the RSC, Pericles and Timon. For such a distinguished and experienced teacher, she retained a remarkable degree of humility, demonstrating an ever-eager openness to learning and to enlarging the craft of theatre in all its forms. 

I was fortunate to play a small part in bringing her together with Augusto Boal, resulting in a real and absolute life-long friendship and mutual admiration. As a result of Cic’s enthusiasm for Augusto’s work, in the late 1990s he went to Stratford to carry out an extraordinary two week workshop on Hamlet, using his Rainbow of Desires techniques, which he absolutely loved (as he loved Cic). Another outcome of this connection ultimately was a series of visits to Brazil, which developed into the close connection with Nós do Morro, through the good offices of Paul Heritage at QMU. 

I read her books as a student, and never imagined I would be lucky enough to meet and work with her. Her political commitment, perhaps unexpected in the heart of such an established institution as the RSC, was undying, as was her belief in the power of theatre, particularly Shakespeare, to enhance our lives and help us understand the world. We will miss her, and send our love to her son Simeon, who worked with us on several occasions, and the rest of her extended family.

- Adrian Jackson, Artistic Director of Cardboard Citizens, 19 October 2018