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Dame Vanessa Redgrave DBE is to be this year’s winner of the Pragnell Shakespeare Birthday Award





Dame Vanessa Redgrave DBE is to be this year’s winner of the Pragnell Shakespeare Birthday Award.

The actor will be presented with her award at the Shakespeare Birthday Lunch on Saturday, 20th April, at the Avonbank Gardens, in the grounds of the RST.

The award celebrates individuals who have significantly furthered society’s understanding, appreciation, and enjoyment of the great Bard’s work.

First introduced in 1990, the illustrious roster of winners includes Adrian Lester, Sir Ian McKellen, Dame Judi Dench and Sir Kenneth Branagh.Making the announcement on behalf of the Royal Shakespeare Company, the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust and the Shakespeare Institute and Pragnell, a spokesperson said: “This year we are delighted to reveal the winner is globally renowned actor Dame Vanessa Redgrave DBE. From an acting dynasty, her birth was announced by Laurence Olivier during a performance of Hamlet at the Old Vic who announced with great insight, ‘A great actress has been born this night.’

Dame Vanessa Redgrave. Image: Wikimedia Commons
Dame Vanessa Redgrave. Image: Wikimedia Commons

Making her stage debut in 1958, Vanessa played Helena in A Midsummer’s Night Dream at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, the first of her many Shakespearean roles. Over six decades, she has garnered numerous accolades including an Academy award, a BAFTA award, two Emmy awards, two Golden Globes and an Olivier amongst others.

Paying homage to Dame Vanessa, Professor Michael Dobson of the Shakespeare Institute told the Herald: “It is some consolation to theatregoers who missed Dame Vanessa's Rosalind in 1961 – one of the performances which established the reputation of the then newly-constituted RSC – that it was filmed for television: even in monochrome the recording is as intimate, as truthful and as captivating as everything we have come to expect from Dame Vanessa on stage and on screen over the intervening decades. “I was lucky enough myself to see her as Cleopatra and as Katharina on stage in the 1980s, and her Volumnia in Ralph Fiennes’ film of Coriolanus remains one of the great screen performances in Shakespeare. As in all her work, there is a luminosity about it, as if the play – and beyond that, life itself – is just shining uninterruptedly through her.”This year’s luncheon will again be hosted by actor and presenter Alexander Armstrong and in keeping with tradition, this will feature a three-course lunch, speakers of note, ceremonial toasts and live performances directed by the RSC, culminating in the announcement of Dame Vanessas as winner of the Pragnell Shakespeare Birthday Award.

For the first time, Daniel Evans and Tamara Harvey, the newly appointed artistic directors of the RSC, will be overseeing an exciting combination of musical and theatrical performances taking place throughout the lunch.



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