Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Vivien Leigh and Alec Guinness at the Old Vic

I recently started collecting memorabilia relating to the Old Vic Theatre. eBay is quite the treasure trove for this and I just bought a book on there called "Old Vic Drama" by Audrey Williamson, a critical review of all plays staged by the theatre from Richard II in 1934 to Richard II in 1947.

It's an extensive work, full of detail, trivia and insight and a substantial number of photos, two of which caught my eye so I've scanned them below. Click for larger versions.

Firstly, here's Alec Guinness as Hamlet in 1938...

"The Hamlet of the 24-year old actor Alec Guinness fitted admirably into the production... It lacked, on the whole, much emotional turmoil. Intellectually Guinness showed much imagination bringing to the part many thoughtful details and a touching naturalness of gesture. Yet the performance did not lose in poetry, and besides being beautifully spoken was obviously deeply felt. It had much in common with John Giegud's early Hamlet..."

Here's the stunning 23-year old Vivien Leigh, on the verge of stardom, as Titania in A Midsummer Night's Dream in 1937/8. After the run, she went on to film her legendary role role as Scarlett O'Hara in Gone With The Wind.

"Vivien Leigh's Titania was a bewitching partner to this Oberon: as graceful as he, beautiful as a fairy princess, silver of tongue and meltingly seductive."

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