McBean and the RSC’s’ golden age

The photographer Angus McBean, best known now for his portraits of the Beatles, Audrey Hepburn and Vivien Leigh, took some of his finest pictures for the Royal Shakespeare Company.

He photographed over 160 different productions at Stratford-upon-Avon between 1945 and 1962, regarded by many as a golden age of acting, including this image of Charles Laughton as Bottom in the 1959 production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. With him as the “Rude Mechanicals”, left to right, are Cyril Luckham,Donald Eccles, Julian Glover, Michael Blakemore and Peter Woodthorpe.


Dorothy Tutin and Richard Johnson in Romeo and Juliet, 1958

 Before his death in 1990 McBean had intended to bring together the best of the photographs from the RSC archive, and at last his wish has been fulfilled with a new book, Shakespeare by McBean, by McBean’s friend and biographer Adrian Woodhouse, which has images from all 37 Shakespeare plays and greatest Shakespearean actors of the age – Olivier, Ashcroft, Burton, Gielgud, Richardson included.

Googie Withers and Michael Redgrave in Much Ado About Nothing, 1958

Shakespeare by McBean by Adrian Woodhouse is to be published on  October 18 by Manchester University Press and is for sale via the RSC shop

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