Michael Baldwins diverse career included writing, photography, illustration, costume and decor design, theatrical jewelry making, choreography, model agency, theatrical agency and acting. Michaels pen name was Max India and besides kindly providing illustrations for our website, he illustrated Larks Castle by Susannah York and his own books, Piccadilly Circus and The Prince and the Wind Dragon.
Michael assisted with the work of co-ordinating AWL’s script appraisal system when it was first set up in 2000. He was an AWL Honorary Member.
My first memory of Michael was his lovely, infectious laughter at AWL meetings, in 2003, I think. Somewhere along the way, I discovered his talent for drawing: wonderful little sketches poured from his pen, including humorous caricatures of AWL members, or AWL types at least.
One of my favourites shows a relatively diminutive AWL member pulled up by the lapels by an angry giant. The drawing, which Michael labelled “in the Bar”, seems to depict the moment when a writer takes issue with someone who dared to find fault with his play during the chaired discussion. I asked Michael to produce a selection of such drawings, and he very generously pronounced that they were ours, and that we could use them freely on the website and on AWL programmes. Many of them still adorn our website to this day, notably the drawing at the head of every page and on AWL ’s calling card.
Michael became increasingly immobile in later years. His flat in Clapham, where he spent most of his adult life, was on the third floor, and getting out of the house was increasingly problematic, and so we didn’t see him at AWL after 2005. But when the premiere production of my Molière adaptation, The Social Climber (Le Bourgeois gentilhomme) was mooted, I asked him if he would design the costumes, even though it was by no means certain that we would find the funding for them.
He took to the project with his typical enthusiasm and skill, and produced beautiful paintings of each of the characters in a matter of a few weeks. I particularly remember the astonishing insights that he brought to the characters. For example, he told me that Madame Jourdain’s dress was much more modest than her daughter Lucile’s. Michael explained that Madame would still be wearing the clothes that had been made for her at the time of her marriage, whereas Lucile’s clothes reflected the changed fashion of a couple of decades later.
As a token of my gratitude for Michael’s unique talent freely given, I built a website for him. Michael opened up his archive of photographs and designs and I made audio recordings of him speaking about twenty or thirty of them. All of this you can see and hear for yourself, and I can’t recommend it too highly for anyone who knew Michael and wants to be reminded of his great story-telling skills and fabulous sense of humour, and, of course, to hear that lovely laughter.
I cherished a hope that I might get him to design costumes for another of my Molière adaptations, but it was not to be. The legendary Christmas parties, which ran from early Sunday afternoon until “last man standing”; in the small hours, ceased in 2013, and he spent his final year in hospital.
I shall treasure the audio recordings, the drawings and the memories. Thank you, Michael.
Oh, so sad to hear that! Michael was such a lovely man and so very talented. I’ve often thought of him and only recently sent him a message telling him so and hoping he was okay. Such a great loss. Hope he didn’t suffer too much.
I’m so sorry to hear of Michael’s passing. He was a multi-talented man who over a long career worked with virtually all the major names in the industry. Most importantly he respected other peoples abilities and had a real joy in sharing his talents and outrageous show biz stories. I’ll remember him. RIP
I remember Michael from when he was still able to attend AWL evenings. I had noticed his absence for some time and had picked up it was for health reasons. He was a very pleasant, very friendly and welcoming person. He made a good impression on me and the proof of this is I still remember him so clearly though it’s a number of years since I last saw him. Very sad indeed.
Sad news indeed. I have fond memories of sharing jokes and stories with Michael. A genuinely kind, considerate and charming man. RIP
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