Alan Howard

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For other people named Alan Howard, see Alan Howard (disambiguation).
Alan Howard
Born (1937-08-05) 5 August 1937 (age 77)
London, England
Occupation Actor
Spouse(s) Stephanie Hinchliffe Davies (1965–1976; divorced)
Sally Beauman (2004–present)
Website
http://www.alanhoward.org.uk

Alan MacKenzie Howard, CBE (born 5 August 1937) is an English actor. He was a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company from 1966 to 1983, and played leading roles at the Royal National Theatre between 1992 and 2000.

Early life[edit]

Howard was born in London, the only son of actor Arthur Howard and his wife Jean Compton (Mackenzie). He was educated at the independent school Ardingly College in Ardingly, West Sussex.

Theatre[edit]

1958–1965[edit]

Alan Howard made his first stage appearance at the Belgrade Theatre, Coventry in April 1958, as a footman in Half In Earnest. He remained with the company until 1960, playing many parts including Frankie Bryant in Arnold Wesker's Roots in June 1959, which first transferred to the Royal Court Theatre then to the Duke of York's Theatre in July 1959, where he made his West End debut in the role.

Returning to the Belgrade he played Dave Simmonds in Wesker's I'm Talking About Jerusalem, April 1960. This was followed by Monty Blatt in Chicken Soup with Barley at the Royal Court, June–July 1960, completing the Wesker Trilogy with a revival of Roots and the transfer of I’m Talking About Jerusalem (as 1st Removal Man).

At the Pembroke Theatre in Croydon he played Kenny Baird in A Loss of Roses, January 1961; completing the year’s work with a return to the Royal Court as de Praquo in The Changeling.

In 1962 he was cast as the Duke of Ferrara in Beaumont and Fletcher's The Chances and Nearchus in John Ford's The Broken Heart, both at the Chichester Festival Theatre in its inaugural season. A year later in April 1963 he played Loveless in Virtue in Danger, a musical version of Vanbrugh's The Relapse, first at the Mermaid Theatre before transferring to the Strand Theatre in June 1963. He ended the year playing Fotheringham in Anthony Powell's Afternoon Men at the New Arts Theatre in August 1963.

Engaged by H.M. Tennent Productions, 1964 brought him the challenge of an international tour of South America and Europe [1] playing both Bassanio in The Merchant of Venice and Lysander in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Staged by Wendy Toye and starring Ralph Richardson, the productions were first seen at the Theatre Royal, Brighton [2].

At the Phoenix Theatre in May 1965 he was “boldly playing” Simon Challoner in Julian Mitchell’s fine stage adaptation of A Heritage and Its History [3]; ending the year at the Nottingham Playhouse as Angelo in Measure for Measure and Bolingbroke in Richard II, co-starring with Judi Dench and Edward Woodward.

1966–1979[edit]

Howard first joined the Royal Shakespeare Company at Stratford-upon-Avon in 1966, cast as Orsino in Twelfth Night, Burgundy in Henry V and Lussurioso in The Revenger's Tragedy. Subsequent RSC roles, all at Stratford unless otherwise stated, included:

Howard then played Eric von Stroheim in The Ride Across Lake Constance at the Hampstead Theatre in November 1973, transferring to the Mayfair Theatre in December; and again played Cyril in The Black and White Minstrels, revived at Hampstead in January 1974, before returning to the RSC, where his roles included:

  • Carlos II in The Bewitched Aldwych, May 1974
  • Title role in Henry V, and Prince Hal in the two parts of Henry IV Stratford 1975; Aldwych, January 1976
  • Rover in Wild Oats, co-starring with Jeremy Irons, Aldwych, December 1976
  • Title role in Henry V, also the title roles in the three parts of Henry VI and Coriolanus Stratford 1977; Newcastle Season, at the Theatre Royal, Newcastle upon Tyne 13 February – 25 March 1978; and Aldwych, summer 1978
  • Mark Antony in Antony and Cleopatra Stratford, October 1978; Aldwych, July 1979
  • Chepurnoy in Maxim Gorky's Children of the Sun Aldwych, October 1979

1980-to date[edit]

  • Title roles in Richard II and Richard III, Stratford 1980; Aldwych, November 1981
  • The Hollow Crown, devised by John Barton, RSC Fortune Theatre July–August 1981
  • Pleasure and Repentance, devised by Terry Hands, RSC Fortune Theatre July–August 1981
  • Gennady in The Forest by Alexander Ostrovsky, The Other Place, Stratford 1981; RSC Donmar Warehouse, July 1981; Aldwych February 1982
  • Halder in Good by C.P. Taylor, music by George Fenton, RSC Donmar Warehouse, September 1981; Aldwych April 1982; Booth Theatre, New York October 1982 (141 NY performances).

Alan Howard then left the Royal Shakespeare Company. Subsequent performances included:

A complete listing of Alan Howard's theatre credits, including early work at the Belgrade Theatre, Coventry, appears on his career website, qv.[1]

Howard has the possibly unique record of having played all Shakespeare's consecutive eponymous English kings; though the distinction depends on a Henry IV played (as Henry Bolingbroke) in Richard II (at Nottingham) rather than in Henry IV, Part 1.

Personal life[edit]

Howard is the nephew of Leslie Howard and casting director Irene Howard. On his mother's side he is also a great-nephew of the actress Fay Compton[2] and the novelist Sir Compton Mackenzie.

He first married actress and theatre designer Stephanie Hinchcliff Davies in 1965 (marriage dissolved). He married his long term partner Sally Beauman in 2004 and they have one son and one grandchild. He was appointed CBE (Commander of the Order of the British Empire) in 1998.

Theatre awards[edit]

Howard won his first Plays and Players award in 1969, voted by the London theatre critics as the Most Promising Actor in the RSC repertoire. His second came in 1977, again voted for by the London critics, when he won as Best Actor for his RSC performances in Wild Oats, the three parts of Henry VI and Coriolanus. In 1981 he again received the Plays and Players critics' award for Best Actor for his roles in Richard II and Good by C.P. Taylor.

He twice gained the Evening Standard Award Best Actor trophy for his performances in Coriolanus (1978) and Good (1981).

He also won the Society of West End Theatre award for Best Actor (1976) for his performances as Prince Hal in Henry IV, Part One and Part Two and Henry V and in 1978 as Best Actor in a Revival for Coriolanus (these are now known as the Olivier Awards).

Other awards include the 1980 Variety Club Best Actor Award for the title roles in Richard II and Richard III; and the Drama magazine (British Theatre Association) Award for Best Actor (joint) 1981, for Richard II, Good and The Forest.

Television[edit]

Television, since 1961, includes Philoctetes, The Way of the World and Comets Among the Stars.

He played a spymaster in the Thames Television six-hour spy story Cover, written by Philip Mackie, 1981; and played John Osborne's father, Tom Osborne, in A Better Class of Person, Thames 1985. He also played the title role of Coriolanus in the 1984 BBC Shakespeare production.

He has been seen in such series as Notorious Woman, The Return of Sherlock Holmes, Midsomer Murders and Foyle's War. He also gave performances as Mr Spenlow in David Copperfield and as Maurice Wilkins in Life Story.

Partial filmography[edit]

References[edit]

  • Who’s Who in the Theatre 17th edition, Gale (1981) ISBN 0-8103-0235-7
  • Theatre Record and its annual Indexes
  • The Best of Plays and Players 1969–1983 edited by Peter Roberts, Methuen Drama (1989)

External links[edit]