Thelma Holt

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Thelma Holt

Thelma Holt (colour) photograph.jpg
Born (1932-01-04) 4 January 1932 (age 89)
Lancashire, England, UK
OccupationProducer, retired actress
Spouse(s)Patrick Graucob (divorced, 1968) David Pressman (divorced, 1970) Patrick Graucob (remarried, 2011)

Thelma Holt CBE (born 4 January 1932) is a British theatre producer and former actress. [1]


After a successful career as an actress, in partnership with Charles Marowitz, Thelma founded the Open Space Theatre in Tottenham Court Road, London, [1] which became the forerunner of the London fringe. In 1977, joined The Round House in Chalk Farm as Artistic and Executive Director. [1] There she instigated a policy of bringing the best of regional theatre to London: Citizens Theatre (Glasgow), Royal Exchange Theatre Company (Manchester), Stephen Joseph Theatre Company, Scarborough.

She gave London the opportunity to see some of the successful productions initiated at the Edinburgh Festival. Other visiting companies included: Josef Szanja (Poland), The Pickle Family Circus (USA), Circus Oz (Australia), Antoine Vitez (France), Rustaveli Theatre Company (Georgia, CIS).[ citation needed ]

From 1977–83 Holt was artistic director at the Round House. [1] In 1983 The Round House closed and Thelma Holt joined the Theatre of Comedy as executive producer, where she produced Loot by Joe Orton, directed by Jonathan Lynn and starring Leonard Rossiter. (For further information on Holt at both the Open Space and at the Round House, see (Vaulting Ambitions by Jennie Schiele, published in 2004.)

Work with the National Theatre

In 1985 Holt joined the National Theatre as head of Touring and Commercial Exploitation. [1] She was responsible for the following NT West End transfers: A Chorus of Disapproval , The Petition, Brighton Beach Memoirs , Three Men on a Horse and A View from the Bridge . She was also responsible for major tours of National Theatre productions to: Paris, Vienna, Zurich, North America, Moscow, Tbilisi, Tokyo, Epidavros.

Holt produced INTERNATIONAL 87, a series of four visits to the National Theatre by international theatre companies: The Hairy Ape by Eugene O'Neill directed by Peter Stein (production from the Schaubühne, Berlin), Miss Julie by August Strindberg and Hamlet by William Shakespeare both directed by Ingmar Bergman (Productions from the Royal Dramatic Theatre, Stockholm), Macbeth by William Shakespeare and Medea by Euripides both directed by Yukio Ninagawa (the Ninagawa Company from Tokyo), Tomorrow was War by the Mayakovsky Theatre Company from Moscow. For this international season Holt received the Olivier/Observer Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Theatre [2] and a special award from Drama Magazine. In 1998 she co-produced The Fairy-Queen by Purcell, directed by Adrian Noble for the Aix-en-Provence Festival.[ citation needed ]

Thelma Holt produced INTERNATIONAL 89, a second series of four visits to the National Theatre by international theatre companies: Tango Varsoviano by Teatro del Sur (Buenos Aires), Grapes of Wrath by the Steppenwolf Theatre Company (Chicago), Uncle Vanya by Anton Chekhov from the Moscow Art Theatre and Suicide for Love the return of the Ninagawa Theatre Company.[ citation needed ]

Work with the Peter Hall Company

For the newly formed Peter Hall Company, Holt was Executive Producer for: Orpheus Descending by Tennessee Williams (cast included Vanessa Redgrave), presented at the Theatre Royal, Haymarket, The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare (cast included Dustin Hoffman) presented at the Phoenix Theatre, London and in New York, The Wild Duck by Henrik Ibsen (cast included Alex Jennings, David Threlfall, Nichola McAuliffe) presented at the Phoenix Theatre, London.

Holt was executive producer for Triumph Proscenium's production of Pirandello's Henry IV starring Richard Harris, which was presented in 1990 at Wyndham's Theatre, London. In 1990 she also presented two visiting productions at the National Theatre: Hamlet by William Shakespeare (the Bulandra Theatre Company from Bucharest), The Kingdom of Desire based on Shakespeare's Macbeth (the Contemporary Legend Theatre from Taiwan).

Thelma Holt Limited































Honours and awards

Positions held

Commonwealth honours

Commonwealth honours
CountryDateAppointmentPost-nominal letters
Flag of the United Kingdom.svg United Kingdom1994 Present Commander of the Order of the British Empire CBE

Foreign honours

Foreign honours
CountryDateAppointmentPost-nominal letters
Flag of Japan.svg Japan2004 Present Order of the Rising Sun (Gold Rays with Rosette)


Chancellor, visitor, governor, rector and fellowships
Flag of England.svg England1998 1999 University of Oxford Cameron Mackintosh Professor of Contemporary Theatre
Flag of England.svg England2002Present Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts Companion [9]
Flag of England.svg England2003Present St Catherine's College, Oxford Emeritus Fellow [10]
Flag of England.svg England2018Present Royal Academy of Dramatic Art Honorary Fellow [11]
Flag of England.svg England Oxford University Dramatic Society Patron
Flag of England.svg England Middlesex University Member of Court

Honorary Degrees

Honorary degrees
LocationDateSchoolDegreeGave Commencement Address
Flag of England.svg England1998 Open University Master of Arts (MA) [12]
Flag of England.svg England1994 Middlesex University Doctorate
Flag of England.svg England2003 University of East Anglia Doctor of Letters (D.Litt) [13]
Flag of England.svg England2010 University of Plymouth Doctor of Arts (D.Arts) [14] [15]

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  2. 1 2 "Olivier Winner 1987". Olivier Awards. Archived from the original on 6 January 2014. Retrieved 5 January 2014.
  3. "Thelma Holt is a new Visiting Professor". Oxford University Gazette. Oxford University. 13 November 1997. Retrieved 7 January 2014.
  4. "Japanese Government honours Thelma Holt". Embassy of Japan in the UK. Retrieved 6 January 2014.
  5. "Oxford honours friends from across the world". University of Oxford. 30 July 2007. Archived from the original on 7 January 2014. Retrieved 6 January 2014.
  6. Smith, Alan. "Thelma Holt scoops Special Award..." The Stage News. The Stage.
  7. "Shakespeare's Globe celebrates founder Sam Wanamaker's centenary with 2019 Sam Wanamaker Award". 13 June 2019. Archived from the original on 3 June 2021. Retrieved 3 June 2021.
  8. Thorpe, Vanessa (5 September 2004). "Shakespeare lovers pull a few strings". The Guardian. Retrieved 6 January 2014.
  9. "LIPA Companions 2002–03". Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts. Archived from the original on 7 January 2014. Retrieved 7 January 2014.
  13. "Honorary Graduates of the University". University of East Anglia. Retrieved 7 January 2014.
  15. "University News Centre". Plymouth University. 7 September 2010. Archived from the original on 29 October 2013. Retrieved 7 January 2014.