Gregory Doran takes leave from RSC to care for terminally ill Antony Sher

By Chris Wiegand
Gregory Doran with Antony Sher in 2015.
Married 16 years ago … Gregory Doran and Antony Sher in 2015. Photograph: Dan Wooller/Rex

The actor Sir Antony Sher has been diagnosed with a terminal illness, leading his husband, Gregory Doran, to take compassionate leave from the Royal Shakespeare Company to care for him.

The news was announced on Friday by the RSC. Doran, who has been the company’s artistic director since 2013, issued the statement: “I am very sorry to say that my husband, Tony Sher, has been diagnosed with a terminal illness, and in order to look after him, and with the agreement of the board, I will be taking a period of compassionate leave with immediate effect. I expect to return in early 2022.”

Sher, 72, is an honorary associate artist at the RSC and has won acclaim for his lead performances in its productions of Richard III, Macbeth, King Lear and many other plays. Doran has frequently directed him on stage and the couple married in 2005. Sher’s most recent role for the company was opposite John Kani in Kani’s play Kunene and the King, which premiered in the Swan theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon, in 2019, directed by Janice Honeyman. Its London run was curtailed by the first lockdown.

The RSC’s deputy artistic director, Erica Whyman, is to take on the role of acting artistic director until Doran’s return. Nigel Hugill, RSC chair, commented: “All our thoughts are very much with Greg and Tony at this extremely difficult time. The board thank Erica for agreeing to take on the role of acting artistic director and alongside Catherine [Mallyon] as executive director, the RSC remains in very safe hands.”

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