Caspar Wrede

Baron Caspar Wrede af Elimä (or Casper Wrede) (8 February 1929 in Viipuri, Finland – 25 September 1998 in Helsinki, Finland) was a Finnish theatre and film director.[1]

Casper Wrede
Casper Gustav Kenneth Wrede

(1929-02-08)8 February 1929
Viipuri, Finland
Died25 September 1998(1998-09-25) (aged 69)
Helsinki, Finland
OccupationTheatre and Film director
Years active19511993
Spouse(s)Dilys Hamlett 1 (1951–1976) (one son)
Karin Bang (1982–1998) (two daughters)

Early life

Casper Wrede came from a noble Finnish family of German origin, which owned large estates mainly in eastern Finland between the 17th and 19th centuries, and had been created barons in 1652 by Queen Christina.


In 1951 he left Finland and enrolled at the Old Vic Theatre School in London run by the French director Michel Saint-Denis. He was much influenced by Saint-Denis and his ideas had a great effect on the theatre companies that Wrede helped establish. In 1956 he was involved with the setting up of the Piccolo Theatre company in Chorlton-cum-Hardy, Manchester (which only survived for a year) and in 1959 he founded the 59 Theatre Company, based at the Lyric Theatre (Hammersmith). Michael Elliott was appointed assistant artistic director and, although short-lived, the company achieved considerable success with productions of Brand, Little Eyolf and Danton's Death. During this time Wrede also directed both the stage debut of Alun Owen's play The Rough and Ready Lot[2] and its 1959 television adaptation.[3][4] Wrede and Elliott went on to run a season of plays at the Old Vic in 1961.

At the same time as his theatre work in the fifties, he directed a number of plays for television including episodes of ITV Television Playhouse and ITV Play of the Week. He also started to direct films which he continued to do through the sixties, including a screen version of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich with Tom Courtenay.

In 1967 Wrede and Michael Elliott agreed to direct productions for Braham Murray’s Century Theatre at Manchester University and in 1968 the three of them set up the 69 Theatre Company also at the University where they produced plays until 1972. The group started to look for a permanent theatre in Manchester. They were joined by Richard Negri, a colleague and friend of Wrede's since the Old Vic School who was to design the new theatre, and the actor James Maxwell and in 1973 a temporary theatre, The Tent, was installed in the disused Royal Exchange in Manchester. The success of The Tent led to the decision being taken to build the new theatre inside the Royal Exchange. Wrede directed one of the two opening productions in September 1976, The Prince of Homburg. He went on to direct over 20 productions during the next 15 years. He resigned from the company in 1990 and eventually moved back to Finland with his second wife, Karen Bang, a friend since childhood.[5]

Theatre productions

His productions include:[6]

The Royal Exchange

Other Theatre



  • The Royal Exchange Theatre Company Words & Pictures 1976–1998. The Royal Exchange Theatre Company Limited. 1998. ISBN 0-9512017-1-9.
  • Murray, Braham (2007). The Worst It Can Be Is a Disaster. London: Methuen Drama. ISBN 978-0-7136-8490-2.


  1. Trevor Peacock, Obituary: Caspar Wrede, The Independent, 30 September 1998.
  2. Owen, Alun (1960). The Rough and Ready Lot: A play in Three Acts. Cover design by Elisabeth Frink (First ed.). London: Encore Publishing Co. Ltd. p. 4.
  3. "The Rough and Ready Lot", Radio Times, London (1871), p. 19, 18 September 1959, retrieved 6 April 2016
  4. "The Rough and Ready Lot (1959): Film details". British Film Institute. Retrieved 6 April 2016.
  5. Murray, Braham (2007). The Worst It Can Be Is a Disaster. London: Methuen Drama. ISBN 978-0-7136-8490-2.
  6. The Royal Exchange Theatre Company Words & Pictures 1976–1998
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