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12 October 2007: BBC News

Dame Diana attacks theatre advert

Acting legend Dame Diana Rigg has criticised one of Wales's top theatres for failing to give actors prominent billing.

Dame Diana attacked Clwyd Theatr Cymru in Mold over an advert for a production of Anton Chekhov's The Cherry Orchard.

The ex-Bond girl, who is not appearing herself in the production, complained that the advert gave only the names of the director, designer and composer.

A spokesperson for the theatre declined to comment.

Dame Diana, famed for her portrayal of the cat-suit clad Emma Peel in The Avengers, said some "provincial theatres" adopted a "silly pose" in ignoring the formula that attracted audiences.

She wrote in a letter to the Daily Telegraph that the main attractions were the play, actors and director.

Clwyd Theatr Cymru's run of The Cherry Orchard - a "poignant comedy of changing times"- begins on Thursday and runs until 10 November.

Advertised as Chekhov's last and greatest play, the production is a new version by Mike Poulton.

His name - along with those of director Terry Hands, designer Johan Engels and composer Colin Towns are listed above the description of the play on the theatre's website.

Dame Diana had seen a theatre advert in the Daily Telegraph.

The names of the cast, including Simon Armstrong and Julian Lewis Jones are listed beneath.

Dame Diana said that an advertisement for the play in the paper's Saturday Review section had failed to mention the actors' names at all.

"If Clwyd has a success, it might transfer to the West End where - surprise, surprise - the leading actors will be billed above the title," she wrote.

The actress from Yorkshire said regional theatres received public subsidies but refused to accept that they should be run by commercial tactics.

"I am increasingly irritated by the pretension of these theatres coupled with their cry of poverty when they are shooting themselves in the foot," she wrote.

"Meanwhile, the actors are cast into anonymity and earn a pittance to boot.

"I should know: I have been there."


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