Gielgud given permanent top West End billing at the Globe

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IT WAS a weekend of mixed drama for London's West End Theatres. Sir John Gielgud was honoured by having a theatre named after him in a story guaranteed to warm the heart of even the harshest critic, write Andrew Gliniecki and David Lister.

Elsewhere, however, the theatres were receiving some of the worst notices in memory. Thespians at the annual meeting of Equity, the actors' union, described regular scenes of low farce and tragedy at theatres said to be mice-

infested, overcrowded and flea-ridden.

At the star-studded Laurence Olivier Awards ceremony at the London Palladium, Sir John's 90th birthday last week was honoured with the announcement that the Globe Theatre in Shaftesbury Avenue will be renamed the Gielgud in October when Sir Peter Hall opens a production of Hamlet there. Sir John has been involved in 16 productions, as actor or director, at the theatre since 1929.

The announcement came as Janet Holmes a Court, chairman of Stoll Moss Theatres, was presenting a special award for the late Sam Wanamaker, who campaigned to rebuild Shakespeare's original Globe in south London, to his daughter, the actress Zoe Wanamaker. But while champagne flowed at that ceremony, Equity members meeting at the Duke of York Theatre in Covent Garden complained most actors were lucky to find drinking water backstage.

David Emerson said: 'Dressing rooms are overcrowded and there are many, many examples of mice, dirty rooms, fleas and no drinking water.' Far from being in a position to reproduce Sir John's fabled diction, it was said that many actors 'develop permanent illnesses and sore throats' from poor heating and ventilation.

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