Stephen Fry, the comedian, TV personality, author, presenter and national treasure, has been appointed as a Visiting Fellow of St Catz as the Cameron Mackintosh Professor of Contemporary Theatre.
The Professorship is an annual award given to a public figure who delivers termly lectures on topics of their choosing under the theme of contemporary performance. Fry will succeed a former artistic director of the RSC, Sir Michael Boyd. The post has previously been held by public thespians and broadcasters such as Sir Patrick Stewart and Lord Attenborough.
In a press release on the college website Fry stated, “This is an extraordinary honour… I really look forward to engaging with students who are enthusiastic and passionate about the performing arts. Dance and music will feature little in my time there, I am sorry to say, but I hope to help students devise comic and dramatic pieces, talk through rehearsal, writer-performing techniques and procedures… Above all, I hope we’ll all have fun. It’s not by accident that dramatic pieces are actually called plays, and that in Shakespeare’s day actors were players.’
Mr Fry will deliver the inaugural lecture on the 20th February at the Bernard Sunley Lecture room in Catz, the event is open to everybody and tickets will be released in advance online. St Catz will release further details on ticketing options nearer the time. It is expected that Mr Fry will deliver a further workshop or seminar in Trinity term, beyond the initial lecture Mr Fry is under no further obligations.
The Master of St Catz, Professor Roger Ainsworth cited “Stephen’s highly acclaimed return to the stage in the 2012 production of Twelfth Night at Shakespeare’s Globe” as one of the reasons for his appointment, as well as his popular appeal among the student body.
Robert Natzler, head of Cabal student productions, lamented Fry’s appointment, “He’s great and famous and all, but he’s not exactly a Jez Butterworth, is he? The decision seems to be more driven by populism than a genuine desire to celebrate some of the great writers and directors out there who don’t get Fry levels of exposure. Jonathan Church, Ian Rickson – hell, even one of those blokes from Punchdrunk – the list of braver, more exciting candidates is pretty extensive.”
When asked via Twitter if he would like to comment on his appointment, Mr Fry replied “No.” However, when pressed further, he expanded on his response by tweeting, “@jackprescott_ Sorry, but you see I don’t ever do print media. Not even for lovely fluffy students.”