THE LOFT Theatre in Leamington has lost one of its most prominent actors and directors who has passed away from coronavirus. Martin Cosgrif, actor, director and teacher died on Sunday. Loft artistic director Sue Moore wrote this tribute.
Martin was born in February 1948 and brought up in Burnley. He was proud of his northern heritage. He was captivated by theatre and was destined to pursue this as a career. He trained at Rose Bruford College, where he met and shared a flat with Gary Oldman. When he mentioned this he would always say “He did alright didn’t he?” He graduated with a BA in Theatre Arts and then a Masters at Lancaster University in Contemporary Theatre Practice. Professional performances followed at the Bolton Octagon Theatre, Chesterfield Rep and Liverpool Playhouse with stints at the Watford Palace, on television and on radio.
A gifted teacher, he ran the BTec Performing Arts course at Accrington and Rossendale College for 24 years, where his former students included Julie Hesmondhalgh and Lee Ingleby. They, along with other ex students who are now professional actors, put a video together of a speech from Henry V for him in his last days in hospital. He taught the LAMDA syllabus at King’s High School in Warwick and was a LAMDA examiner.
His passion was theatre. He adored Stratford and went to the RSC summer school every year. He met Vivien Heffernan there 24 years ago, who was to become one of his closest friends. She knew Martin as a talented actor, very clever and very funny.
Viv said: “Most of all though Martin was a wonderful friend. He was empathetic, completely non-judgemental and would give considered wise advice. What more could you possible ask of a friend. I shall miss him hugely.”
He was a guide at Shakespeare’s Birthplace – a perfect role for him. It was unsurprising that he took the chance to move to Stratford ten years ago and engage in the rich arts scene in the town including The Bear Pit, Consensus Opera and Trinity Players.
In 2016 he became involved with the Loft Theatre in Leamington and appeared in ten productions there as an actor and director. His talent was immense. He was due to direct two plays in the next year and was in the cast of others too. His last performance opened in the Loft on March 16, the night that theatres across the UK had to shut their doors.
I was in the cast of three that night. We had a great opening night. Martin was a consummate professional, gifted, witty, warm and generous. As we shut that night, we mourned the loss of the magic of theatre in our lives, but Martin said ‘whatever happens we have to finish this run’………and we shall.