Plowright Heads Old Vicís Fight for SurvivalDate: 9 August 2001
Joan Plowright is heading a fund-raising campaign by Londonís Old Vic Theatre to enable essential repair work on the building to go ahead. The venue is offering the chance to purchase and dedicate a seat in the theatre, with takers so far including Anthony Hopkins, Kevin Spacey, David Suchet and Richard Briers.
Under the scheme the seats will be offered once, and then when sold and dedicated, will remain that way forever. The Old Vicís ploy seems certain to test the truth of Laurence Olivierís remark that the theatre has the best actor/audience relationship of all. For over a decade the venue has laboured under the constant threat of closure. An Old Vic Theatre Trust was founded to provide for its future, but relies on the goodwill of supporters without receiving any government subsidy.
Susannah Gorgeous, the Old Vicís Development Co-ordinator, told Whatsonstage.com: ďThis particular campaign began in earnest earlier this year and we were thrilled when Joan Plowright agreed to become involved. We have to raise funds to literally stop the roof from falling in, and although we probably need around £3million for ongoing repairs we hope the seat sales will raise around £400,000. Joan Plowright and her late husband Laurence Olivier both have strong associations with the theatre, which is such a beautiful auditorium that it seemed sensible to utilise its appeal.Ē
Repair work that has been carried out over the past two decades has highlighted a number of problems which place the building at some risk. The main plans involve replacing the roof, refurbishing the exterior and increasing security. Lesser priorities include reinstating the Ďmirror curtainí and replacing a bracket clock on the Waterloo Road side of the venue.
Joan Plowright CBE is one of the world's most respected actresses, with a career in film and theatre spanning over 40 years. She won a Tony Award in 1960 for A Taste of Honey and a Golden Globe (plus Oscar nomination) for the movie Enchanted April. Plowright was married to Baron Laurence Olivier from 1960 until his death in 1989.
The Old Vic first opened as The Regency in 1818, and is the only London theatre from that era still in operation. Legendary performances there include both Richard Burton and Laurence Oliver as Richard III and Peter OíToole playing Hamlet.
- by Gareth Thompson