The Duchess of Cornwall presented a special Olivier Award to lyricist Don Black for his contributions to musical theatre, appearing in a pre-taped segment for a socially-distanced awards show that airs on Sunday night.
Camilla filmed her segment last week at the London Palladium, saying: “It is such a treat to be in a theatre again, even if we haven’t quite made it as far as the stage…”
Speaking about the importance of theatre and the arts, Camilla said, “I believe in the theatre… I believe that in a great city, or even in a small city or a village, a great theatre is the outward and visible sign of an inward and probable culture.
“Surely we would all echo Olivier: I believe in the theatre. It is a cornerstone of a fertile cultural life; a forum for debate; and a powerful means of building community. After all, a play can be many things: funny, heartbreaking, cathartic, comforting. It can entertain us for an evening; or enrich the soul forever. But whatever form a performance takes, it allows us to deepen our understanding of ourselves, others and the world around us.”
Of Don Black, who received a Special Olivier Award this year, Camilla said that he “has lived and breathed the theatre for decades; and his wonderful lyrics have become part of the fabric of our lives.
“I said just now that the theatre is a builder of community. Don, as always, captures this sentiment perfectly – in ‘Mrs. Henderson Presents’ – with the brilliant line: When we’re together, all our woes are gone. Don, you are a great dispeller of woes. Many congratulations on this thoroughly well-deserved Award.”
During her visit to the London Palladium last week, the Duchess met with Julian Bird, the Chief Executive of the Society of London Theatre, Lord Andrew Lloyd-Webber, Jason Manford (the host of the Olivier Awards), and Don Black.
Following her presentation, she met with Sir Sam Mendes and Bird to learn more about the Theatre Artists’ Fund and to meet three recipients. To date, the fund has raised nearly £4 million and has supported more than 2,600 people.
“The last few months have, very sadly, hit theatres and those who work in them extremely hard, just as they have all the live performing arts. I was therefore delighted to learn about the creation of the Theatre Artists’ Fund, which has already made an enormous difference to many. I should like to thank those of you whose profession is in the theatre for your determination and your flexibility. Please remain resilient – we need you, and we have missed you.”