YouTube’s Theatre Treasures: Laurence Olivier interviewed by Kenneth Tynan

Here’s another treasure from my occasional rummaging around the dusty corners of the cyber-storeroom that is YouTube. Today’s nugget is an interview from 1966 – Kenneth Tynan interviewing Laurence Olivier.

The recording lasts just over 45 minutes. Do stay with it through the rather pompous opening fanfares, and you’ll find a really interesting and candid discussion with one of our greatest actors about his career, chances, upbringing, and successes.

Kenneth Tynan, who interviews Olivier, was the Literary Manager of the National Theatre at the time of this recording. Tynan, a writer and critic who liked to make waves from his first appointment – at the Evening Standard – in 1952. His collected reviews are often interesting and incisive pieces. A fan of the New Wave, John Osborne et al, Tynan’s barbed retorts against cosy theatrical fare are crackling pieces of disdain in his reviews of this material, and, frankly, are something of a delight to read in themselves. (A particular favourite of mine is his demolition of Anna Neagle in one of the plodding historical productions she starred in, “Sixty Glorious Years” who, when she sang, Tynan described as “Shaking her voice at the audience like a tiny fist”….)

Tynan was made Literary Manager of the new National Theatre Company in 1963, at which time they were still operating out of the Old Vic Theatre. It is fitting that this interview starts on stage at the Old Vic, with a view of the auditorium, with an informal Olivier, with the interview transitioning to the studio later on.

I hope you enjoy it!

With Thanks to YouTube poster Roman Stryan


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