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Posts Tagged ‘Anthony Quayle’

As this is a very special year in RSC History, I thought I would write a series of blogs with my thoughts and reactions linking 1961 to 2011.To be honest, I have to declare an interest because as some of you know, this year marks 50 years of my first coming to Stratford and seeing an RSC production.

Inevitably, at the age of 15 it was a school visit, on a beautiful June day and the play was RICHARD III. Surprising as it may seem, I did not really know much about the RSC then, nor did I appreciate that it was a special year as the Royal Charter had  been granted. I was just excited at the prospect of seeing the play at the theatre in William Shakespeare’s home town and being one of a generation brought up on seeing Laurence Oliver’s portrayal on film of the hunchback king, to be able to see a live performance of this exciting history play.

I still recall the thrill of turning from Sheep Street into Waterside and seeing the RST for the first time. THIS was the mecca of all theatrical pilgrims and 50 years on, I experience that thrill every time  I see our transformed home. The 1932 foyer seemed absolutely amazing in size compared to that of the New Theatre, Cardiff, which was then the theatre I was used to visiting.  Today the Scott Bar reminds me of the awe and wonder I felt seeing the Art Deco for the first time and THAT special box office. If someone had told me then that 50 years on, I should have the privilege of standing there as a theatre guide with colleagues and being able to share this special space with visitors from all over the world !

I was also intrigued to be able to purchase from the then small shop copies of the SHAKESPEARE MEMORIAL THEATRE POSTCARD SERIES which presented all the world -famous players who had acted at  Stratford since 1948. I have since found out that there were 34 cards in the series and I was indeed spoiled for choice but plumped for Laurence Olivier as Macbeth and Anthony Quayle as Falstaff. What else? A programme of course. The latter cost one shilling and was really just an official cast list within the now celebrated red cover with the new company logo by Lilia De Nobili (remember that swan ?).

Even so, I was soon to see the play and  make my way to the Balcony entrance. Like so many theatregoers, I am delighted that the old Balcony door is still to be seen because it became the portal leading to so much theatrical pleasures and magic. As for the performance itself ?  Yes, I know “the play’s the thing ” and the performance that so enthralled me 50 years ago will be the subject of the next blog

Tony Boyd-Williams.

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