WORLD-OBITS-L ArchivesArchiver > WORLD-OBITS > 2007-11 > 1196033752
From: "Peter McCrae" <>
Subject: [WORLD-OBITS] BRANDT: George Willhelm Brandt
Date: Sun, 25 Nov 2007 23:35:52 -0000
Last Updated: 2:29am GMT 23/11/2007
Professor George Brandt, who has died aged 86, influenced the development of
drama as a subject in British universities, and in particular the teaching
Brandt: truly international
Throughout his long career at the University of Bristol's drama department,
Brandt taught many students who went on to have successful careers in the
media. Moreover, by virtue of his warm, enthusiastic, lively and
intellectually rigorous personality he was held in great affection by many
whom he taught and who worked with him.
Brandt was a gifted linguist and a brilliant lecturer; he also turned his
hand very effectively to directing plays for the theatre and producing
television programmes and films. Latterly he had written books and articles,
many of them on relatively obscure aspects of continental theatre.
Georg Willhelm Brandt was born in Berlin on October 8 1920, the elder child
of a successful businessman. After Hitler came to power in 1933 the family,
being Jewish, left for England, settling in London, where George attended
King Alfred's School, Hampstead, and went on to study Modern Languages at
University College, London. On the outbreak of war he was interned, and had
to sit his finals under armed guard - he was applauded by his fellow
undergraduates as he and his escort made their way into the exam room. He
was then sent to a camp in Canada.
In 1945 Brandt was invited by John Grierson to join the National Film Board
of Canada. At first he wrote and narrated propaganda films, then progressed
into writing and editing documentaries.
Four years later he returned to London, and in 1951 was appointed one of
three members of academic staff in the fledgling sub-department of drama at
Bristol University. From the outset Brandt engaged vigorously in combining
the rigorous academic study of the subject with practical and creative
activity. Among his earlier involvements was supervising the production of
Harold Pinter's first play, The Room (1957). In 1953 he had directed The
Duchess of Malfi, with a cast of staff and students, which toured in Europe,
including Vienna, where it was the first English-language production since
Brandt was truly international in his linguistic, artistic and scholarly
interests. He was instrumental in bringing to Britain the first Japanese Noh
Theatre company with female performers. He produced many films in the 1980s,
several of them in association with the BBC.
Brandt also acted himself on several occasions. As Barrabas in a
modern-dress version of Marlowe's Jew of Malta, he based his character on
Groucho Marx, complete with moustache and cigar. He also achieved success as
a playwright; his radio play, The Head of Medusa, featuring his former
student Tim Pigott-Smith as the 15th-century Italian sculptor Benvenuto
Cellini, was broadcast on Radio 4 in 1998.
Brandt engaged in a broad range of scholarly activity. He edited British
Television Drama (1981), one of the first books to approach the subject as a
serious academic study; British Television Drama in the 1980s (1993); German
and Dutch Theatre, 1600-1848 (1993); and Modern Theories of Drama (1998). He
contributed to The Continuum Companion to Twentieth Century Theatre (2002)
and to New Theatre Quarterly. He kept up his wide range of research and
writing interests until shortly before his death on September 24.
Perhaps his most notable achievement was the establishment at Bristol of the
drama department's radio, film and television section (now the MA in Film
Studies), which continues to run a highly successful postgraduate course,
and was the only course of its kind at a British university for many years.
He was appointed director of film studies in 1971 and subsequently
professor. Former students include Mick Jackson, John Willis, Coky Giedroyc,
Alex Cox, Michael Winterbottom and Geoff Posner.
He had a brown belt in judo.
For his funeral Brandt chose a line in the song from Walt Disney's
Pinocchio: "Always let your conscience be your guide."
George Brandt married, in 1949, Toni Lafrenire, who survives him with their
two children .
|[WORLD-OBITS] BRANDT: George Willhelm Brandt by "Peter McCrae" <>|