The battle to prevent the demolition of the St. Jame's Theatre, London, took a new?
The battle to prevent the demolition of the St. Jame's Theatre, London, took a new turn on Saturday, July 20, when many leading personalities of the British stage took part in a protest march and open-air meeting.
A leading figure in the crusade to save the old theatre from demolition, Vivien Leigh - wife of Sir Laurence Olivier - told a mass meeting of British Actors Equity in St. Martin in the Field courtyard that Sir Winston Churchill had offered to subscribe GBP500 in the event of a fund being opened.
Currently appearing with her husband in the London production of Shakespeare's play "Titus Andronicus" at the Stoll Theatre, Lady Olivier turned comedienne when she opened her short speech".
Central figure in a recent incident in the House of Lords when she was escorted from the building by Black Rod after protesting against the St.Jame's plan in the Lords Chamber, Miss Leigh opened her speech;
"My Lords, Ladies and Gentlemen - oh, I am so sorry".
The rest of her remark was drowned in the laughter of the crowd.
Referring to the letter of Sir Winstons, Miss Leigh read; "I hope you will succeed in your defence of the St. Jame's Theatre, although as a Parliamentarian, I cannot approve of your disorderly methods.
If a fund is needed, as seems possible, I shall be very glad to subscribe GBP500 to it. I fear it is all I can do at present, but I shall be definitely committed to the cause".
Sir Laurence Olivier said, "There is no reason why the Government should not own and run the theatre, with proper management. It owns the festival hall.
Already there are terrifying moans about other theatres being pulled down. You can see the Gaiety being pulled down and the Adelphi is threatened. There are terrifying rumours about the Lyric and Apollo. There is a cloud hanging over Her Majesty's Theatre".
Speaking as president of Equity and expressing his organisation's views, Mr. Felix Aylmer said they did not recommend a subscription fund.
"Our aim is to obtain from the Housing Minister justice for our profession", he said. "The choice is the St. Jame's Theatre or nothing".
Never has the West End of London seen so many famous stage names together. Vivien Leigh and Sir Laurence Olivier, with members of the cast from the Stoll Theatre, led the protest march.
The casts of every other theatre in London, from the Old Vic to The Windmill, marched as well.
SYPNOSIS: Other "big names" in the march included Michael Redgrave, Shiela Sim, Richard Attenborough, Brian Forbes, Nigel Patrick, Peter Cushing, Rossmund John, Maurice Denham, Dame Edith Evans, David Kossoff, Ronald Shiner, John Clements, Dora Bryan and Anna Massey.
Other speakers at the open-air meeting included John Clements and the Member of Parliament for Saint Pancres.