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Tributes paid to Aberdeen theatre luminary, Edi Swan, who worked with everybody from Charlton Heston to Chic Murray

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Renowned theatre director Edi Swan, who inspired generations of art pupils across the north-east, has died at the age of 84.

Mr Swan became the first ever-technical director at HM Theatre in Aberdeen in 1979. helping it become one of the most famous venues in Scotland.

However, his links with the theatre started well before then, when in 1956 he worked as a scenic artist with the Whatmore Players while still a student.

He continued to work as a designer and artist in venues across the city, even while juggling his role as assistant head at Ellon Academy.

Aberdeen Performing Arts chairman Craig Pike said: “His lifelong love of theatre has left a legacy in this city, at HMT and beyond, which will last for a long time to come.”

Born in 1935, Mr Swan spent the early part of his life in Fittie and then Stockethill, and enrolled at art school in Aberdeen.

His passion for the theatre started at an early stage, first at Central School and then at art school and subsequently with the Whatmore Players, who used to visit the Granite City on a regular basis.

After being appointed as technical director at HM Theatre, he worked with some of the biggest names of screen and stage, including Charlton Heston, Chic Murray, Andy Stewart, Rikki Fulton, Leslie Crowther, Max Bygraves and companies as Scottish Ballet, with whom he shared myriad tales.

But, while he became Assistant Head at Ellon Academy, he was most well-known for his influence at HMT, a place which inspired him and led to his appointment 40 years ago.

He worked with some of the biggest names of screen and stage, including Charlton Heston, Chic Murray, Andy Stewart, Rikki Fulton, Leslie Crowther, Max Bygraves….and such companies as Scottish Ballet with whom he shared myriad tales.

One such story featured Mr Heston and Roy Kinnear, who were in the north-east for A Man of All Seasons.

He recalled to author and historian David Northcroft: “After the run was over, the American star held a party and Jimmy Donald (who ran HMT) was thrown into a bit of bother by the thought we would have to present him with something.

“I came up with the idea that I would do a caricature of him in full Highland dress – Heston was very proud of his Scottish ancestry – and I attached the message: ‘a prince among men.’

“In return, he had a photograph taken of the two of us together and wrote on it: ‘To Eddy’. Under the circumstances, I could forgive the misspelling of my name.”

Mr Swan retired from the role of technical director in 1993.

In 2006, Mr Swan published the official centenary history of HMT, One Hundred Years of Glorious Damnation. It summed up his mischievous sense of humour and high regard for the place where he spent so much of his existence.

He was also a dedicated family man, and was married to late wife Sheila for more than 60 years.

He is survived by his children Susan, Fiona and Gary, grandchildren Jane, Heather, David, Shona and Eileen, and great-granddaughter Lilly.

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