Colgan will share his honorary OBE with beloved Gate
HE has been synonymous with the Gate Theatre for almost three decades, and yesterday renowned director Michael Colgan said he was sharing his honorary OBE with his beloved theatre.
Mr Colgan said he hoped to receive the honour from British Queen Elizabeth II if she makes a widely rumoured visit to Ireland this year.
Announcing his award yesterday, the British ambassador to Ireland, Julian King, said Mr Colgan had been selected for his services to cultural relations between the two countries.
Mr King also made special mention of Mr Colgan's collaborations with the English playwright Harold Pinter.
"I'm genuinely surprised about it . . . I think the queen has great taste," Mr Colgan joked.
"I feel it's for the Gate. It's a horrible thing to say -- but I am (with) the Gate for the last 27 years. I love the Gate."
Mr Colgan explained how he was first contacted by the embassy in January and asked whether he would be willing to accept the OBE.
"I had a bit of a think and I decided if anyone gives you a gift, it's bad manners not to take it. I think this is the first time someone in theatre has got it."
Mr Colgan said he had been "sitting on" the news since then and was delighted to be able finally to break his silence.
"Because I've been so long at this fine institution, there can be no question but that this award should be shared by all who have worked with me at the Gate.
"I know that one person who would have been particularly pleased is my dear friend, the late, great Harold Pinter," he added.
Mr Colgan said the embassy had offered to throw a party for him to receive the award and "my nearest and dearest, all 1,400 of them", would be invited.
Commenting on the award, Mr King said Mr Colgan had made an "exceptional contribution" to cultural relations between the UK and Ireland, and during his tenure at the Gate had built an extraordinary relationship with leading playwrights, producers and directors from both countries.
"He has given many leading British actors the opportunity to experience the joy of performing in front of a warm and sophisticated Irish audience," Mr King said.
"He has brought many Gate productions to the United Kingdom, being a regular visitor at the Edinburgh Festival, the Barbican Arts Centre and the West End of London," he added.
British honours such as the OBE are awarded on merit for "exceptional achievement or service".
Recipients who are not part of the commonwealth are given honorary awards.