Wednesday 17 January 2018

Theatre boss turns on critics over acceptance of OBE honour

Ken Sweeney

Ken Sweeney

THEATRE impresario Michael Colgan has hit back at detractors who criticised his decision to accept an honorary OBE, saying they are unlikely to be offered the same accolade.

The 60-year-old director of the Gate Theatre insists he has been "overwhelmed" by messages of congratulations since news of the honour was announced last month. But he admits not everyone has responded so positively.

Veteran theatre producer Noel Pearson was decidedly lukewarm in his praise of Mr Colgan.

When asked for his reaction to the awarding of the honour on the 'Late Late Show', Mr Pearson said the Gate director "deserves it in a way". But he added: "It's kind of strange, Irish fellas taking these things."

When asked if he would accept an honorary OBE himself, Mr Pearson, who is one of the country's most successful producers, emphatically said he would turn it down.

"Not at all. I know a lot of English actors wouldn't take them," he added.

However, Mr Colgan last night rounded on his detractors. "It's very hard to take something if you're not offered it. I have discovered there is a direct relationship between the people who say they wouldn't take it and those that are unlikely to be offered it. 'I wouldn't take that old stuff'. Well you're not even in the running," he told the Irish Independent.

Mr Colgan, whose current production 'Les Liaisons Dangereuses' has also sparked controversy due to scenes of full frontal nudity, said that when he received a previous honour, the Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters from the French government, "no one wrote to the papers about it".


Some indignant critics have said Mr Colgan should surrender his Irish passport given his decision to accept the honour.

"These (honours) are not to be taken literally. They are gifts. When an outside state says to me and my theatre, "well done for what you have done for Harold Pinter and cultural relations between our two islands", I think it's bad manners to say you don't want it," Mr Colgan said.

Announcing the awarding of the OBE, British ambassador Julian King said: "Michael has made an exceptional contribution to cultural relations in the arts between the UK and Ireland."

"The idea of not taking it never entered into my head. Most people have been delighted," Mr Colgan added.

Irish Independent

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