Adrian Cairns 12/10/24 - 16/3/03

Part 1. From "Quaker News", the Newsletter of Bristol & Frenchay MM, May 2003

Adrian Cairns was born and brought up in Hampstead, London, and educated at Haberdashers' Aske's school. His family was not theatrical but, by the age of 16, he was determined to become an actor and was accepted at the Old Vie Theatre school. After completing his apprenticeship he became junior lead at the Oxford Playhouse.
From 1943-1946 he served as a Sub-Lieutenant in coastal forces with the RNVR and then returned to London where he played at many West End theatres. He also appeared in the opening season of the first Civic Theatre in England, at Chesterfield. In the 50's he began to direct in Rep and more than 300 productions followed.
In 1952 Adrian married Pamela Wingfield and they had one daughter, Francesca. This marriage was later dissolved and in 1958 he married Laura, stage name Laura Hedley, who also worked in the theatre and radio.
His natural communication skills and approachable manner were perfectly suited to a post as senior presenter and interviewer with Tyne Tees TV (1959-1964) where his "golden magisterial voice" brought him closer to a wider audience.
He had become increasingly interested in the training of actors and visited theatre schools from Moscow to California to study their different methods of teaching, putting this into practice from 1964 until 1989 when he was Associate Principal of the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School. In 1996 he published "The Making of the Professional Actor: a History, an Analysis and a Prediction"
From a Methodist childhood Adrian progressed through agnosticism and humanism to High Church Anglicanism and then to various Eastern faiths, always on a path of spiritual enquiry. Following his coming to Quakerism (as the result of Laura's seeing a newspaper advertisement), this search continued through his enthusiastic membership of the Universalist Group and the Seekers and led to the production of many thought provoking articles, essays and pamphlets. Since 1983 he was a well loved member of Portishead PM where, among his many other roles, he was a long serving Elder.
Adrian's tireless intellectual spirit was combined with a real warmth and love of humanity which, together with his imposing presence and mellifluous voice, will be deeply missed by the Meeting.

Part 2. Addition by SP:
On Saturday 15th March I went up to Friends House, London to take part in a one-day conference "Quaker Threshings". This was an extension of the "Quaker Quest" programme. The main speaker was Frank Parkinson and we had received several papers by him outlining his philosophy, about the nature of God (his views are scientific and very radical) and the supposed crisis in which Quakers find themselves in Britain and many other liberal Yearly Meetings. Elsewhere I will be writing quite a lot, based on his analysis. After Franks's address we broke into groups and I found myself in one with several people who I soon realised were quite brilliant and were very knowledgeable of the subject matter. With one of these, a very large man, I had a minor spat. but thereafter we got on well. I asked a lot of questions and he and others answered them quickly, clearly, and interestingly. At break I got talking to this large man and we seemed to really hit it off. I found his name to be Adrian Cairns and realised I had seen his name in many Quaker journals, and I think on Quaker-B. (A Quaker Newsgroup.) I was delighted to find that he was a member of my Monthly Meeting (I had transferred to it recently), and of the local Meeting nearest to mine. I went home excited by the thrust of the conference (though increasingly critical of many of the views expressed) and eagerly anticipating more interaction with this jovial giant - a man with a giant personality, and a giant mind.
Next day, Sunday, in Meeting I pondered on the theories I'd heard and had what I felt was an important religious 'opening'. My gratitude was directed towards Adrian who I felt had helped me make a significant step forward in my spiritual development.
After Meeting the Clerk announced that Adrian Cairns had died that morning. I interrupted, exclaiming genuinely, "It can't be true!".
When I read the above announcement, and went to the funeral and later to a tree planting meeting at the Old Vic Drama School I realised that his greatness as a spiritual inspiration was just one of his many greatnesses. I thank God for the grace shown in the life of such an individual. SP 14/7/03

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Rev 24/10/03