30 August 2018
Eight stamps mark the 200th anniversary of The Old Vic, described as 'one of the most important venues in the UK’s performing history'
Royal Mail have marked the 200th anniversary of The Old Vic theatre in London.
The new Old Vic stamps depict performances of British actors at The Old Vic, including Richard Burton in Henry V; Judi Dench and John Stride in Romeo and Juliet, 1960; and Laurence Olivier in The Dance of Death, 1967. The stamps were designed by hat-trick design and printed by International Security Printers.
Sharon Benson who played Carmen Jones, said of seeing her stamp for the first time: ‘When I first saw a picture of it last year I thought “wow!” That was my favourite outfit and the song I’m singing is The Card Song, one of my favourite songs in the whole production. They’ve picked the best image to depict my favourite memory of the performance. It’s such a strong scene. Everyone’s in silver and Carmen walks in wearing this red outfit… I’m getting chills just thinking about it!’
The Old Vic was originally called the Royal Coburg and first opened in May 1818. It was built on reclaimed marshland, 300 yards south of the newly built Waterloo Bridge. The theatre could hold 3,800 people and offered everything from spectacular melodramas to Shakespeare revivals. The theatre was renamed the Royal Victoria in 1833. ‘The Vic’ soon became the world’s premier Shakespearean theatre. Edith Evans, Sybil Thorndike, Peggy Ashcroft, John Gielgud, Ralph Richardson and Alec Guinness all gave their first great classical performances here. Tyrone Guthrie directed a glamorous young film star named Laurence Olivier as Hamlet, Henry V and Iago. There was a hiatus between 1940 and 1950, after bombing had left The Old Vic unusable as a theatre, but then Richard Burton came to play Hamlet, Coriolanus and an award-winning Henry V during a five-year season in which all Shakespeare’s plays were staged.
The Old Vic Artistic Director, Matthew Warchus said: ‘As we celebrate a long history of inspiring creativity in this iconic building, and look to a bright future of uplifting, adventurous and accessible theatre-making, we are delighted to be collaborating with Royal Mail on this special stamp edition to mark The Old Vic’s 200th birthday.’
Actress, Kate Burton, said of her father, Richard: ‘He’d be absolutely thrilled. It’s an important tribute. It’s a fitting tribute. I’m so happy that dad is being recognised for his brilliant work on stage because, god knows, he had such a wonderful colourful life, never a dull moment, but he was an unbelievably gifted actor.’
The eight stamps depict…
Richard Burton – Henry V, 1955
Judi Dench and John Stride – Romeo and Juliet, 1960
Laurence Olivier – The Dance of Death, 1967
Maggie Smith – Hedda Gabler, 1970
Ralph Richardson and John Gielgud – No Man’s Land, 1975
Albert Finney – Hamlet, 1975
Sharon Benson – Carmen Jones, 1991
Glenda Jackson – King Lear, 2016