Issue date: 06 November 2001

Peter Copley is to be awarded the Honorary Degree of Master of Arts in recognition of his distinguished career as an actor and his contribution to regional theatre in particular.

Peter Copley was a student at the London Old Vic in 1932. He ‘walked on’ in The Cherry Orchard with Charles Laughton as Lophakin and James Mason as Yasha. He then appeared with repertory companies in Leeds, Bexhill and Dublin and on tour in South America, Europe and England.

From 1944 to 1950 Peter Copley appeared alongside Laurence Olivier and Ralph Richardson at the New Theatre, where he played Hastings in Richard III, Edmund in King Lear and Laertes in Michael Redgrave’s Hamlet. He was renowned with a sword and arranged many stage fights including that for Olivier in Richard III.

For a period in the 1950s Peter Copley worked almost exclusively in films and television. In the 1960s and 1970s he was in the West End, starring in three adaptations of CP Snow novels, The Affair, The New Men and The Masters.

In 1980 Peter Copley was Beauchamp in Tom Stoppard’s ‘Artist Descending a Staircase’ at the Duke of York Theatre. In 1989 he played Professor Farama in Pavel Kohout’s ‘the Maple Tree Game’ which opened the Courtyard Theatre at the new West Yorkshire Playhouse in Leeds.

Between 1980 and 1995 Peter Copley has appeared in twenty-five productions at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre Royal. He has developed a particular affection for the city, its Theatre Royal and its theatre school which is associated with the University of the West of England.

Peter Copley is an extremely eminent actor who has had a long and nationally prestigious career in the theatre including membership of the Royal Shakespeare Company. His life-long commitment to theatre and the performing arts has been inspirational for the growth and development of regional theatre and in particular the Bristol Old Vic Company.

The Honorary degree of Master of Arts will be awarded to Peter Copley at the awards ceremony of the Faculty of Humanities on Wednesday 7 November at Bristol Cathedral at 2.45pm.


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