Which other theatre greats deserve a statue?

Joan Littlewood outside Theatre Royal Stratford East in the 1970s. Photo: TRSE Archive
Alistair Smith
Alistair Smith is editor of The Stage. Having joined the publication on staff in 2004, he has also held the roles of reporter, news editor, opinion editor, deputy editor and print editor at The Stage and has written for publications ranging from The Guardian to Hello! Magazine. He is also the author of two major industry reports (the London Theatre Report and the Theatre Workforce Review) and a founder of the My Theatre Matters! campaign.
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Wonderful news this week that the late pioneering theatre director Joan Littlewood is to be celebrated with a big bronze statue outside her beloved Theatre Royal Stratford East.

She joins a notable (but relatively short) list of major theatre and entertainment figures who have been honoured in bronze, marble or stone. Of course, there's the statue of Laurence Olivier as Hamlet on the South Bank outside the National Theatre and there are likenesses of both Noel Coward and William Shakespeare inside Theatre Royal Drury Lane.

The first ever theatrical knight, Henry Irving, is commemorated on Charing Cross Road, while outside London, the Aylesbury Waterside Theatre boasts a statue of Ronnie Barker, Brighton one of Max Miller, Eric Morecambe is remembered in, well, Morecambe and Oscar Wilde has statues in London and Dublin. Meanwhile, Broadway's only theatrical statue (I believe) is of vaudeville and musical theatre writer George M Cohan.

There are others, of course, but not that many. And, actually, other than Joan Littlewood, the only statue of a female theatre figure I can think of is of Sarah Siddons as the Muse of Tragedy.

It's quite commonly asked which theatre figures should have a theatre named after them, but I wonder who is missing from our theatrical repertoire of statues?

Is it time we had a Terrence Rattigan statue outside the Duchess? Binkie Beaumont outside the Noel Coward? Or perhaps Sarah Kane outside the Royal Court?