Piers Haggard Death, Obituary – Piers Haggard, our company’s founder, passed suddenly on January 11th, and the news has left us in a state of profound grief. 1939 marks the year of Piers’s birth in London. After beginning his career in the theater industry at the Royal Court as an assistant director, he went on to work in the film and television industries as well. Among his many film and television accomplishments is the 1979 BAFTA-winning performance in Pennies From Heaven. In addition to having a fruitful career as a filmmaker, Piers fought tenaciously and tirelessly for the rights of directors and the credit they deserve.
After serving as chairman of the Directors Guild in its earlier iteration, he went on to assist in the formation of our sister organization, Directors UK. Then, when he was 75 years old, he organized, cajoled, and bullied those of us who direct theater productions into joining Stage Directors UK. At the second conference of the SDUK in 2014, I had the pleasure of meeting Piers. He recognized the possibility that I could contribute in some way, and he included me on the initial board. His early choices were made with very little consideration given to strategy; if he thought you may be of assistance, he included you on the board.
Because he was so busy getting things done, he didn’t have time to sit down and formulate a plan. If you were interested in lending a hand, you were strongly encouraged to join involved in the effort. SDUK was founded in a startlingly short amount of time, riding a wave of momentum and energy generated by Piers and his dogged resolve. Piers did an excellent job of gathering all of us together in one place, getting us riled up, and then providing us with the resources we required to fight for the protection of our rights. I worked closely with him throughout the course of the subsequent eight years, first as a board member and later on as his replacement.
He educated me on a vast amount of information regarding the history of our unions as well as the many different attempts that theatre directors had made in the past to unionize. Piers possessed an unrivaled level of expertise in the areas of industrial relations and collective action in the creative industries, beginning with the establishment of the DGGB in the 1980s and continuing through the TV directors’ rights strike in the late 1990s.