2 items from 2013
Theatre, opera and television director who worked closely with Benjamin Britten
The theatre, opera and television director Basil Coleman, who has died aged 96, was a prolific and determined populariser of classic works. His acclaimed 10-part television adaptation of Anna Karenina (1977) starred Nicola Pagett and Eric Porter. For the BBC Shakespeare series he directed As You Like It (1978), with Helen Mirren: it was filmed at Glamis Castle and in the surrounding Scottish countryside, one of only two of the BBC Shakespeare series plays shot entirely on location.
His long association and friendship with Benjamin Britten began when the director Tyrone Guthrie made him assistant director on the composer's realisation of The Beggar's Opera with the English Opera Group at the Arts theatre, Cambridge (1948). Coleman then directed the first production of Britten's work for children Let's Make an Opera (1949), at Aldeburgh. Further premieres included the huge challenge of Billy Budd (1951) at the Royal Opera House, »
- William Kerley
Archive of theatre knight, famed for Ealing comedies, reveal Pooterish moments and brickbats for Sir Laurence
On July 12 1989, one of the greatest actors of his generation was reflecting in his diary on the death of another. If Sir Alec Guinness's thoughtswords of praise for Sir Laurence Olivier were extracted, as theatre promoters routinely do with critics' write-ups, it could read as a rave review.
The full text, revealed for the first time in the actor's personal archive just acquired by the British Library, tells a different story. In his impeccably neat tiny script, Guinness wrote of Olivier: "I greatly admired his extraordinary courage … as a comedian he was superb … technically brilliant … he was a great actor."
But he also wrote: "Like so many people whose ambition drive them to great eminence, he had a cruel and destructive streak. Side by side with his generosity, he could be unpleasant, possibly even vindictive. »
- Maev Kennedy
2 items from 2013
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