Since the demise of the Old Vic Company in 1963, Shakespeare production in England has been dominated by the work of the Royal Shakespeare Company operating mainly in Stratford-upon-Avon and London but also taking full seasons to Newcastle-upon-Tyne and touring the provinces. Other companies have come and gone - the Actors' Company (1972-83), Prospect Theatre Company (1961-79) - and the National Theatre has put on a number of productions, starting with John Dexter's Othello with Laurence Olivier (1964); but for two decades Shakespeare virtually disappeared from the West End and from the commercial theatre in general.
West End productions depend for their drawing power largely on the appeal of popular actors in leading roles. A result of the dwindling of such productions has been the increasing dominance of the director. Whereas Gielgud directed a Shakespeare production at Stratford during the 1950s when another actor, Anthony Quayle, was joint Artistic Director, since Peter Hall took over in i960 no leading actor or actress has directed a major production there. Another result has been an increasingly intellectual approach.
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