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From Our Archive: 50 years ago in The Stage (March 6, 1969)

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In a 1969 editorial, our editor Eric Johns wondered why there weren’t more young actors making their mark in the West End.

“Lately we have had brilliant performances from players who have been popular for many years; appearing now or coming along are players in any age category you care to mention over 50. There are not, however, many of the leading younger players to be seen in leading parts. Those who are will be found almost exclusively with the National, the Royal Shakespeare and the Royal Court companies, and not in the commercial theatre. Why is this?

“The answer is the leading younger players are practically all engaged in films and television. They get more ready fame in these spheres, more regular employment; they play more parts more often, and do not have to face the hazard of being seen perhaps for only a few days or a few weeks in a part on which they have worked extremely hard.

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“On the other hand, they are bound to suffer by being away from the theatre for long periods. Only here can the talent of young players be developed, nourished and made to flourish as it should. We have seen in recent months, for instance, Ian McKellen, Ian McShane, Vanessa Redgrave and Tom Courtenay, and Nicol Williamson is packing the Round House as Hamlet. But many are missing: we would like to see again Peter O’Toole, Albert Finney, Terence Stamp, Julie Christie; all players of personality and talent, qualities needed in the theatre.”

If you’d like to read more stories from the history of theatre, all previous content from The Stage is available at the British Newspaper Archive in a convenient, easy-to-access format. Please visit: thestage.co.uk/archive

From Our Archive: 35 years ago in The Stage (February 16, 1984)

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