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National celebrates Olivier

First Published 17 April 2008, Last Updated 21 April 2008

The National Theatre is holding a celebration to mark the centenary of the birth of Sir Laurence Olivier, the National’s first director, in the theatre that bears his name, on Sunday 23 September.

In the evening celebration on the Olivier stage, participants including his widow Joan Plowright, Eileen Atkins, Claire Bloom, Anna Carteret, Derek Jacobi, Charles Kay, Clive Merrison, Edward Petherbridge, Ronald Pickup and Billie Whitelaw will tell the story of Olivier’s working life as an actor and director through film and stage extracts, letters, reminiscence and readings.

On the afternoon of the event a new statue of Olivier as Hamlet – in the National’s inaugural production in 1963 – will be unveiled on the South Bank, near the National’s Theatre Square, at 16:30.

Born on 22 May 1907, Olivier was Director of the National from 1962-1973, when the company was based at the Old Vic, before its current South Bank home was built. He appeared in and directed many productions for the National on the Old Vic stage including Hamlet, Othello, Uncle Vanya, The Dance Of Death, A Flea In Her Ear, Saturday Sunday Monday and Long Day’s Journey Into Night. Olivier died in 1989.

Tickets for the National’s celebration in the Olivier theatre will go on sale later this year.

CB

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