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Director Howard Davies dies aged 71

Howard Davies worked extensively for the RSC, National Theatre and beyond

Howard Davies (director)
© Dan Wooller

Director Howard Davies has died at the age of 71.

Directors, playwrights and the theatre community paid tribute to the man who worked extensively at theatres such as the Old Vic, the National Theatre at the Ameida Theatre and on Broadway.

Davies' recent productions included Enemy of the People at Chichester Festival Theatre in April this year and his 2015 production of Tom Stoppard's Hapgood at Hampstead Theatre, which starred Lisa Dillon and Gary Beadle. His co-production of The Plough and the Stars - which was taken over by Jeremy Herrin when Davies became ill - has just finished its run at the National Theatre.

Before that he worked on the hit production of Temple, written by Steve Waters, which starred Simon Russell Beale and ran at the Donmar Warehouse in May 2015 and a production of For Services Rendered at Chichester Festival Theatre. His production of 3 Winters ran at the National Theatre in 2014.

His family released a statement: "Howard died on the 25th of October after a short battle with cancer. It is a devastating loss to his family, friends and the people who loved and worked with him. He was a wonderful, loving husband, father and grandfather, and a phenomenally talented director. He will be hugely missed."

The National Theatre responded to the news: "At the National Theatre we are profoundly saddened to hear of the death of Howard Davies. One of the very greatest theatre directors of his generation, he had a long and brilliant association with the NT spanning 28 years."

Rufus Norris, artistic director of the National Theatre, paid tribute to the director: "Howard achieved an almost legendary status within the industry. His work – particularly on the American, Russian and Irish canons - was unparalleled."

Nicholas Hytner, director of the National Theatre between 2003 and 2015, said "Howard Davies was the director all actors wanted most to work with, and his productions were the ones I most wanted to see, always cracking with intellectual and emotional energy.

"He was the first person I asked to work with me when I became the National's Director. I could not imagine being there without him, or doing the job without his friendship and support. He was the irreplaceable cornerstone. "

Davies' long career took him from being an associate director at the RSC in the '70s to winning an Olivier Award for Best Director for The Iceman Cometh in 1999. He also won Olivier Awards for his productions of The White Guard and All My Sons. He was due to direct the upcoming production of Wild Honey at Hampstead Theatre in December.

Originally from Durham, Davies studied at Durham and Bristol Universities. He was made a CBE in 2011.

He was instrumental in setting up the Warehouse Theatre in Covent Garden, which later became the Donmar Warehouse. He was married to actress Clare Holman.