The Face of the Olivier Awards

FF92HE LAURENCE OLIVIER/HENRY V./nSir Laurence Olivier in the title role at the Old Vic Theatre, London, 1937.

In 1937 Laurence Olivier stepped onto The Old Vic stage for the very first time in Tyrone Guthrie’s production of Henry V. He was beginning to make his name as a film star following his appearance in Fire Over England but saw The Old Vic as a vehicle for his wish to become a Shakespearean actor:

‘My ambition required it. I required it of myself. I knew it wouldn’t happen unless I crashed that market. So I had to go on with the critics giving me bad notices, saying I couldn’t speak the verse to save my life and all that, and I just went on and on, and after about a year the Press referred to me as “that Shakespearean actor”. Then I knew it had been done.’

This inaugural performance has become a symbol of greatness in theatre and is immortalised on the Laurence Olivier Award itself in a design by sculptor Harry Franchetti featuring The Old Vic’s name.

Originally the Society of West End Theatre Awards from their inception in 1976, they were renamed the ‘Laurence Olivier Awards’ in 1984 and since that time Old Vic productions, performers and creatives have received 90 nominations, including 26 wins.

As we prepare for the 2018 Olivier Award nominations which will be announced at 1pm today, we celebrate all of the ground-breaking performances both on The Old Vic stage and in theatres across the UK.

Good luck to all of today’s nominee hopefuls.

Image credit: Granger Historical Picture Archive / Alamy Stock Photo

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