As students prepare for another sunny year on campus, a sudden dark cloud has cast a shadow over the university’s Malaspina Theatre. Mike Taugher, VIU’s Theatre Manager, passed away on Tuesday, August 18 at the age of 59, leaving his dog Thor and partner Ros Davies, a VIU administrator.
Former students of Taugher remember him as decisive and consistent, lending his advice and stationery to anyone who walked into his office. I had the pleasure of interviewing Taugher about his work on Les Miserables at Chemainus Theatre in 2014. His insight truly came through after mentioning a well-known axiom in theatre: “If they didn’t notice what you did, you did it right,” Taugher said.
As a stagecraft instructor, Taugher inspired students to create wondrous sets on the stage, with over 20 years of experience behind the scenes.
“He was such a presence in the theatre,” Kieran Hunt said. Hunt received his degree in Theatre and History in 2014.
Taugher was a vice chair for the Nanaimo Fringe Festival this summer, providing technical direction for the stage. According to the Fringe website, Taugher has been involved with the festival since the creation of the event five years ago.
“Our dad is gone,” Shelby Matthews said. “We need to pull together right now.” Matthews spent four years at Malaspina Theatre working towards her degree. She worked closely with Taugher just days before his passing as the Event Manager for the Nanaimo Fringe Festival.
A memorial was held a week following, on Tuesday, August 25. The Malaspina Theatre was filled with friends and family of Taugher, who remember him fondly as “a humble and quiet man.” VIU has established a scholarship in his honour, and those looking to donate in his memory can email firstname.lastname@example.org.