In this Father’s Day episode special I am speaking to theatre legend, Thelma Holt.
At 89 years old, Thelma is an encyclopaedia of stories and anecdotes, and, coupled with a fascinating life and career, she really is the dream guest for any podcast - so, I was delighted to hear we both lost our father’s at the same ripe old age of 7, and I could get her onto mine.
Thelma, a graduate of RADA and co-founder of the Open Space Theatre, became director of the Roundhouse in 1976 before joining Peter Hall at the National Theatre as commercial producer. In 1987 she received the Olivier Award for Outstanding Achievement for her international work at the National. She received a second Olivier Special Recognition Award in 2020.
After leaving the NT, for Peter Hall she produced Orpheus Descending with Vanessa Redgrave and The Merchant of Venice with Dustin Hoffman in London and New York. Her inaugural production as an independent producer was Three Sisters with Vanessa Redgrave, Lynn Redgrave and Jemma Redgrave. Subsequent productions include Tango at the End of Winter (directed by Yukio Ninagawa) and Hamlet both with Alan Rickman in the leading role, A Doll's House with Janet McTeer, which won four Tony Awards, The Clandestine Marriage with Nigel Hawthorne and Kean with Antony Sher.
She represented the Cameron Mackintosh Drama Fund at Oxford University for 20 years, is an Emeritus Fellow of St Catherine's College and became a Distinguished Friend of Oxford in 2006. She was delighted that Cameron Mackintosh named a bar at the Noel Coward Theatre as a tribute to her in 2019.
As Associate Producer for the RSC she has, with HoriPro Inc, toured Japan with the RSC's productions of Othello and A Midsummer Night's Dream. She co-produced in the West End the RSC's five Jacobean plays, The Taming of the Shrew and Tamer Tamed, All's Well That Ends Well, The Crucible, The Canterbury Tales, Imperium, Don Quixote and most recently Kunene and the King. In Japan she co-produced with Horipro Inc. The Merchant of Venice and Anjin – The English Samurai, both directed by Gregory Doran.
Thelma was producer for all of Yukio Ninagawa’s productions that were performed in the UK for a period of 30 years, including his final memorial production of Macbeth at the Barbican in 2017. In recognition of her promotion of Japanese theatre, she was awarded the Order of the Rising Sun by the Emperor of Japan.
This bio merely scrapes the surface of Thelma’s life and achievements - as does this episode - due to the fact that, as Thelma puts so brilliantly towards the end of the episode, ‘life is a hell of a lot of fun’. And fun she has had.
I feel very lucky to have Thelma Holt on Daddy Issues Podcast.
I hope you have a fabulous listen.
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