The Royal Mail released a set of eight stamps on 30th August to celebrate the 200th anniversary of Old Vic Theatre. Royal Coburg or Old Vic was built on reclaimed marshland, near Waterloo Bridge, in London and was made operational on 11th May 1818. The theatre could accommodate 3,800 visitors and conducted melodramas, Shakespeare revivals etc. The theatre was renamed Royal Victoria in 1833 and was once again remodelled and renamed Old Vic in 1871. It is a not-for-profit theatre today and can accommodate 1000 visitors who pay £10 for a ticket.
Over the years, it has conducted a wide variety of shows like comedy, music, opera, dance, cinema, classical dramas etc. and has taken the form of a tavern, a college, a coffee house, a lecture hall and a meeting place.
The eight stamps were issued in four se-tenant pairs, depicting 10 veteran actors and actresses from British theatre. Each stamp has the text “The Old Vic”, images of the actors and actresses playing their character, and the name of the show and year.
The pair of non-denominated first-class stamps features Laurence Olivier in a 1967 play called The Dance of Death and Glenda Jackson from a 2016 play called King Lear. The pair of £1.25 stamps features Albert Finney in a 1975 rendition of Hamlet and Maggie Smith in a 1970 play called Hedda Gabler.
One £1.45 stamp features Ralph Richardson and John Gielgud from the 1975 play No Man’s Land. The other £1.45 stamp from the pair features Sharon Benson in the 1991 Oscar Hammerstein II musical Carmen Jones.
One £1.55 stamp features Judi Dench and John Stride from a 1960 rendition of Romeo and Juliet. The other £1.55 stamp from the pair features Richard Burton playing the lead role in a 1955 rendition of Henry V.
Royal Mail and Times theatre critic Benedict Nightingale worked together to design the stamps. Photographs of the actors were used by Hat-trick design to create the designs. First-day covers, eight postcards featuring the stamp stamps, and a presentation pack with History of the Old Vic are also available. The FDC has a postmark of Tallents House, Edinburgh and contains the eight stamps cancelled with a quote “There’s nowhere else like it” by Glenda Jackson. Another first-day postmark from London has stamps cancelled with an original illustration of the Old Vic’s exterior.
Image courtesy: Royal Mail