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Glenda Jackson, King Lear

Published 4 November 2016

Tonight Glenda Jackson makes her return to the London stage. A quarter century after her last role, Glenda will star in The Old Vic’s gender-blind production of King Lear.  The production, which is directed by legendary theatremaker Deborah Warner, also stars Morfydd Clark, William Chubb, Jane Horrocks, Celia Imrie, Rhys Ifans, Simon Manyonda and Harry Melling. 

The story of an ageing monarch and their gradual, vengeful descent into insanity, King Lear is one of William Shakespeare’s most notorious tragic tales, a story riddled with corruption, deceit and poignancy.

To celebrate the play’s opening and a career that has spanned stage, film, television and politics, we’re highlighting just a few of the remarkable roles that Glenda has played.

Royal Shakespeare Company

Glenda became a member of The Royal Shakespeare Company (The RSC) in 1964. One of the most notable productions during her four year spell in the company was as Charlotte Corday in Peter Brook’s controversial production Marat/Sade. Following its run at the Aldwych Theatre the play transferred to Broadway and Paris. Glenda also appeared in The RSC’s staging of US, a protest play against the Vietnam War. The film version was released in 1968 and was retitled Tell Me Lies.

Women In Love

1969’s Woman in Love, an adaptation of one of D.H. Lawrence’s most controversial works, tells the story of two sisters and two men in a mining town in post First World War England. Directed by the pioneering British filmmaker Ken Russell, the film went on to be nominated for four Academy Awards. Glenda went on to win the first of two Academy Awards for Best Actress for her mesmerising performance as Gudrun Brangwen.

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A Touch Of Class

The second of Glenda’s Academy Award winning roles was as the impressively elegant Vickie Allessio in Melvin Frank’s comedy A Touch Of Class. The film tells the story of a couple who find themselves falling in love after they begin their affair. Smart, racy and immensely enjoyable, the film went on to be nominated for five Academy Awards. Glenda and her co-star George Segal also won the Golden Globe Awards for Best Best Actor and Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy.

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Member of Parliament for Hampstead and Kilburn

Glenda retired from acting in 1992 in order to stand for election to the House of Commons in the 1992 general election where she became MP for Hampstead and Kilburn. Following the Labour Party’s election victory in 1997 she was a appointed as a junior transport minister. Glenda resigned the post in 1999 and went on to be frequent critic of her own party’s policy. In 2011 she announced that she would not contest the 2015 election and stepped down from frontline policies.

King Lear plays at The Old Vic until 2 December. You can buy your tickets through Official London Theatre.

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