OLIVER Ford Davies refects on a long career treading the boards, including many at the RSC in Stratford, in his memoir About An Actor’s Life in 12 Productions.
One of Britain’s finest and most in-demand actors, Oliver explores the many changes within the performing arts scene through his experiences on various stages, in a variety of productions, across the country over the past 60 years.
He charts the ups and downs of British theatre in the last six decades, while offering a unique perspective on life behind the curtain and the daring journey from leaving behind an academic career and into acting.
From Shakespeare to Shaw, Chekhov to Pirandello, it is the story of an actor initially struggling to make a mark before making his breakthrough at 50, winning the Olivier Best Actor award and being propelled into 30 years of leading roles.
Oliver is an actor and Honorary Associate Artist of the Royal Shakespeare Company. Through his acting career, he has played major roles for the RSC, including Polonius in David Tennant’s Hamlet, and the National Theatre, including David Hare’s Racing Demon, for which in 1990 he won the Olivier Award for Best Actor.
His work ranges from three Star Wars films and Game of Thrones to a regular role in Kavanagh QC.
He has also been a university lecturer and a regional drama critic for the Guardian.
Oliver said: “The theatre environment has changed so much over the last 60 years. The kind of theatre career enjoyed by a Judi Dench or an Ian McKellen, and also by myself, is almost certainly passing.
“Successful actors, male and female, now concentrate on films and television, or decamp to America, occasionally returning to play Hamlet or Hedda Gabler. There isn’t enough serious theatre to entice them to stay, and, apart from leads in musicals, it is no longer a way to make money or gain celebrity.”