Maggie Smith and The Old Vic


In 1960, a young Maggie Smith’s performance in The Double-Dealer at The Old Vic caught the eye of Laurence Olivier, who invited her to become part of his new National Theatre Company soon after it was formed at The Old Vic in 1962.

In her eight years in the Company, Maggie developed a fierce rivalry with Olivier:

‘He knew immediately he’d met his match – that she was extraordinary. He said that anyone who can play comedy that well can also play tragedy and he ­offered her the likes of Desdemona in Shakespeare’s Othello. But having got her into the company they became not enemies, but professional rivals. Never before had anyone on stage been quicker than him and now, it seemed, there was a contest.’ Michael Coveney.

But the contest did not extend further than the theatre and the two eventually became neighbours and great friends.

Maggie Smith at The Old Vic

Company, As You Like It, 1959 – 1960

Lady Plyant, The Double-Dealer, 1959 – 1960
Mistress Ford, The Merry Wives of Windsor, 1959 – 1960
Maggie Wylie, What Every Woman Knows, 1959 – 1960
Celia, As You Like It, 1959 – 1960
Silvia, The Recruiting Officer, 1963 – 1964
Desdemona, Othello, 1964
Myra Arundel, Hay Fever, 1964
Hilde Wangel, The Master Builder, 1964
T/O Avonia Bunn, Trelawny of the Wells, 1965 – 1966
Miss Julie, Miss Julie, 1965 – 1966
Beatrice, Much Ado About Nothing, 1965
Marcela, A Bond Honoured, 1966
Clea, Black Comedy, 1965 – 1966
T/O Masha, Three Sisters, 1967
Mrs Sullen, The Beaux’ Stratagem, 1970
Hedda Tesman, Hedda Gabler, 1970

Image: Maggie Smith in 1970 with her husband Robert Stevens and friends in the Stalls Bar in The Old Vic on the night of her first performance in The Beux’ Stratagem

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