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.

Related Stories

More Hot Stories For You

CARNIVAL! Comes to Garland Civic Theatre Next Month
August 16, 2022

Garland Civic Theatre will present the musical Carnival! by Bob Merrill, Michael Stewart, Helen Deutsch & Gower Champion at Granville Arts Center September 9-25, 2022.

The 11th TD James Moody Jazz Festival at NJPAC Announces Artist Line-up
August 16, 2022

The New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC) announced the exciting line-up of the highly anticipated TD James Moody Jazz Festival. This year's program offers events combining jazz luminaries in collaboration with artists known for R&B, poetry, hip hop, and so much more.   

HOUSE OF FLAMENKA, A Brand New West End Dance Spectacular, Comes to the Peacock Theatre in September
August 16, 2022

House of Flamenka, a brand new West End dance spectacular, co-created and directed by dance legend Arlene Phillips, is a lavish, extravagant and sexy fusion of Flamenco and Contemporary dance.

QUIET REBELS Will Embark on UK Tour This Year
August 16, 2022

The UK tour has been announced for Quiet Rebels written and directed by Julie McNamara and Hassan Mahamdallie, in a co-production with Dervish Productions, Vital Xposure and Belgrade Theatre, in partnership with Soul City Arts and The Albany, Deptford.

Arcola Theatre Announces Programming For its Autumn Season
August 16, 2022

Having celebrated the fifteenth anniversary of their annual opera festival Grimeborn this summer, Arcola Theatre, led by Artistic Director, Mehmet Ergen, and Executive Producer, Leyla Nazli, have announced new programming for their forthcoming Autumn season with returning Arcola collaborators: New Earth Theatre Company, Philip Ridley, b*spoke theatre company and Frank McGuinness.