Dame Judi Dench, Dame Julie Walters, Sir Ian McKellen and Sir Ben Kingsley are among the actors who have been named bicentenary ambassadors of The Old Vic ahead of the theatre’s 200th birthday.
The ambassadors will curate monologues, share their reflections on the theatre and attend special events to celebrate the anniversary.
Black Mirror star Maxine Peake will curate a series of monologues called One Hand Tied Behind Us to mark International Women’s Day and the 100th anniversary of the Representation of the People Act of 1918.
Doctor Foster actor Bertie Carvel will run the London Marathon to raise money for the theatre, while Peaky Blinders star Helen McCrory will conduct an acting workshop for aspiring performers.
Dame Judi, Ralph Fiennes, Glenda Jackson and Daniel Radcliffe are among the stars who will share birthday messages to the theatre during the week of the anniversary in May.
Other famous faces who will serve as ambassadors include Dame Eileen Atkins, Hugh Bonneville, Dominic West and Oscar nominee Lesley Manville.
Jackson, who won awards for her portrayal of King Lear at the theatre, said: “I think The Old Vic has a reputation that is immutable.
“It’s a lovely theatre to be in; it’s a lovely theatre to play in. It has, undoubtedly, a well-earned magic which has nothing to do exclusively with longevity.
“Looking at The Old Vic, not only because of its past but what it’s done in the recent past and what Matthew (Warchus, the artistic director) is doing with it now and in the future, that idea of attracting people who would not automatically think of going to the theatre shows a vital energy resource.
“Because there isn’t going to be any theatre in the future if we don’t create the desire to go; if we don’t allow people to understand that it can be a unique experience. When it works, there’s nowhere else like it in the world.”
Bonneville added: “Standing proud on the Waterloo Road for two centuries, The Old Vic has seen it all down the generations.
“It’s a remarkable place, steeped in theatrical history but constantly evolving and innovating, throwing its arms wider and wider as it embraces new audiences and new forms of theatre.
“I’m very proud to be one of the voices that has spoken from its stage, which is why I’m piping up again now, not only to say Happy 200th Birthday, you saucy stripling you, but also to yell that together in this landmark year, we who love and value this great building are on a mission to secure its financial future, so that those who create theatre in it tomorrow can surprise and challenge and entertain our grandchildren’s grandchildren. I hope you’ll join us.”
The Old Vic recently created a ‘guardians’ programme to offer employees a way of sharing concerns about behaviour in the workplace, after a string of allegations were made against former artistic director Kevin Spacey, who was at the theatre between 2004 and 2015.