Skip to main content Skip to footer site map

Maggie Smith to Receive Stratford's Legacy Award

Dame Maggie Smith will be the 2012 recipient of the Stratford Shakespeare Festival's Legacy Award and will be honoured at a gala at Toronto's new Four Seasons Hotel on Monday, September 10.

"Here in Stratford, Maggie Smith holds a special place in our hearts," said Artistic Director Des McAnuff. "One of our Festival's founding principles was that we should be a home for artists of international stature as well as for our own Canadian stars, a principle spectacularly embodied in the four seasons Dame Maggie spent with us between 1976 and 1980. Her performances on our stages made an immense contribution to our artistic legacy and are still treasured in the memories of all who experienced them.

"As brilliant in her many celebrated screen roles as in her classical work on stage, Dame Maggie is known around the globe as one of the truly legendary artists of our age. It gives me tremendous pleasure to have this opportunity to express to her our admiration and our gratitude for the extraordinary body of work she has bestowed not only upon us but upon the world at large.

"Having spoken to her recently, I know that Dame Maggie is really looking forward to coming back to Canada, where she enjoyed so much substantial success."

In her four seasons at Stratford, Dame Maggie gave some of the most memorable performances in the Festival's history, including Cleopatra in Antony and Cleopatra, Rosalind in As You Like It, Beatrice in Much Ado About Nothing, Mistress Overdone in Measure for Measure, Queen Elizabeth in Richard III, Titania/Hippolyta in A Midsummer Night's Dream and Lady Macbeth.

Her non-Shakespeare roles at Stratford were equally noteworthy: Masha in Three Sisters, The Actress in The Guardsman, Judith Bliss in Hay Fever, Amanda Prynne in Private Lives, Irina Arkadina in The Seagull and Mrs. Millamant in The Way of the World, for which she won her second Variety Club Best Actress Award. Her performance in the title role of the world première of Edna O'Brien's Virginia was one of her most lauded. The production went on to the Theatre Royal Haymarket, winning Dame Maggie her first Olivier nomination and her second Evening Standard Drama Award for Best Actress.

"Maggie Smith joined the Festival company under Artistic Director Robin Phillips," says General Director Antoni Cimolino. "She had become a bright star in Britain at an early age, enjoying enormous success in the West End and at The National Theatre under Laurence Olivier, before rising to international fame with her Oscar-winning performance in The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie. It was a coup for Robin to have lured her to Canada for the 1976 season and audiences flocked to see her. She won a second Oscar in 1978, but decided to continue her collaboration with Robin, giving the Festival four years at what we thought then was the height of her career. In fact, she has remained at those heights in the years since.

"It is our honour to celebrate Maggie Smith's legacy at Stratford, remembering her witty portrayals of the heroines of Shakespeare, Congreve and Coward as well as her heartfelt dramatic roles in a range of Shakespearean and other classics. We look forward to creating a tribute worthy of her contributions to our stages."

Dame Maggie won the 1969 Academy Award for Best Actress for her performance in the title role in The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie. She won a second Oscar – as well as a Golden Globe and a BAFTA award – in 1978 for her supporting role in Neil Simon's California Suite. Her performances in Othello, Travels with My Aunt, A Room with a View and Gosford Park also garnered Oscar nominations.

Dame Maggie's star has shone continuously throughout her career, with each new generation finding appreciation for her brilliant characterizations – from her early career at London's National Theatre, where in 1963 she played Desdemona opposite Laurence Olivier's Othello, to her mid-career success in film and on stage, to her recent turns as Professor McGonagall in the Harry Potter films and Violet, the Dowager Countess, in Downton Abbey.

Among her dozens of awards are a Tony and an Olivier, two Oscars, seven BAFTAs, two Emmys, two Golden Globes, a SAG award and five Evening Standard Theatre Awards. She was awarded the Hamburg Shakespeare Prize in 1991, is a fellow of the British Film Institute, was awarded a Silver BAFTA in 1993, is an Hon. DLitt of Cambridge University, and St. Andrews, and is a patron of the Jane Austen Society.

Regional Awards

Related Stories

More Hot Stories For You


Photos: First Look at the Cast of CARMEN JONES at Ensemble Theatre CompanyPhotos: First Look at the Cast of CARMEN JONES at Ensemble Theatre Company
September 27, 2022

Ensemble Theatre Company will present the first show of its 2022-23 Season, CARMEN JONES, music by Georges Bizet with book and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II, choreography by Lisa Ruffin, musical direction by William Foster McDaniel, and directed by Jonathan Fox. CARMEN JONES begins previews on Thursday, October 6. See photos here!

Gavin Creel, Major Attaway, Robyn Hurder & More to Star in Jay Armstrong Johnson's I PUT A SPELL ON YOU at Sony HallGavin Creel, Major Attaway, Robyn Hurder & More to Star in Jay Armstrong Johnson's I PUT A SPELL ON YOU at Sony Hall
September 27, 2022

Jay Armstrong Johnson’s annual sold-out Halloween concert-meets-party I Put a Spell on You returns LIVE at New York City’s Sony Hall on Sunday, October 23, 2022. Broadway stars joining this year’s adventure include Major Attaway, Nick Rashad Burroughs, Gavin Creel, Robyn Hurder and more.

Animated Film Adaptation Of 12th Century Poem 'The Knight in the Tiger's Skin' to be Released in the Laemmle TheaterAnimated Film Adaptation Of 12th Century Poem 'The Knight in the Tiger's Skin' to be Released in the Laemmle Theater
September 27, 2022

A new animated film 'The Knight in the Tiger's Skin' by Mirza Davitaia, of GI-Films, will be released in the Laemmle Theater on October 7, 2022. This is the first adaptation of the medieval poem by Shota Rustaveli.

Peoples' Symphony Concerts Announces 2022-23 Season, In-Person & VirtualPeoples' Symphony Concerts Announces 2022-23 Season, In-Person & Virtual
September 27, 2022

Students, workers, families and others on a limited budget can hear some of the world's leading soloists and ensembles for less than $10 per concert when Peoples' Symphony Concerts opens its 123rd season on Saturday, October 22 with international cello star Steven Isserlis and acclaimed pianist Connie Shih.

Shakespeare & Company Weekend Intensive To Be Held In San Jose This WeekendShakespeare & Company Weekend Intensive To Be Held In San Jose This Weekend
September 27, 2022

Shakespeare & Company will hold a Weekend Intensive at San Jose University, September 30 to October 2 -- designed to meet the needs of professional actors and theater students who seek an introduction to Shakespeare & Company's training methods, as well as alumni who wish to refresh and reconnect with the work.