Coeks Gordon

Coeks Gordon
Family name: 
Interview Number: 
Interview Date(s): 
26 Jun 2006
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Coeks Gordon came to London from South Africa in the late 1950s. He worked backstage at the Metropolitan Music Hall, Edgware Road and at several other West End theatres before becoming a stage hand at the Old Vic. He rose quickly through the ranks to become  Production Manager.

 Coeks was in place at the Old Vic for the inaugural opening of Peter O’Toole’s Hamlet  on 22nd October1963 when the National Theatre took up temporary residence under the auspices of Sir Laurence Olivier with whom he worked closely.The controversial casting of O'Toole as the Dane left the other actors in awe - not least a 23-year-old Michael Gambon (playing a spear-carrier), who described O'Toole as "a god with bright blond hair". O'Toole, however, told interviewers he was "sick with nerves", adding: "If you want to know what it's like to be lonely, really lonely, try playing Hamlet."New productions that are still talked about went on every six weeks and all the sets were built on the premises. Coeks attended all the meetings with Sir Denys Lasdun on the early planning stages of the National Theatre to be built on the South Bank.   

He  married actress and writer  Carolyn Pertwee and together they had two daughters. In 1969 they opened a toy shop in Barnes London. However Coeks missed the theatre, so when actress Jean Boht approached him and director Darrol Blake to start a local youth theatre for 14 to 18 year olds, training them in all aspects of their profession, it was just what he was looking for. Forty productions over twenty years followed delivering musicals and dramas of the highest professional standard. The actor Robert Pattinson of Twilight fame is but one product of the Youth Theatre Company.

Coeks Gordon died in October 2015 aged 84.