YORK youth theatre director, producer and musical composer and playwright John Cooper has died aged 70.

Mr Cooper set up BYTES Youth Theatre, followed by Stagecoach Youth Theatre York and subsequently converted Trinity Methodist Church Hall into the 41 Monkgate theatre from scratch.

In honour of his achievement, the performance space was named the John Cooper Studio Theatre.

He oversaw the flowering of many young talents in York with a series of memorable musicals, plays on social issues such as HIV and his innovative open-air staging of Dylan Thomas’s Under Milk Wood.

He also directed plays for A1 Theatre Productions, the company set up by his most talented protégés, the last being Edward Albee’s At Home and At The Zoo at 41 Monkgate in March 2011.

Mr Cooper died on Christmas Day. His funeral will be held on Monday, January 13, at 1.45pm at Trinity Methodist Church.

• A full appreciation of his contribution to York’s theatre scene by The Press theatre critic Charles Hutchinson will appear in the newspaper's What’s On supplement on Thursday.