All Done On Ginger Beer by Sarah Benton
The Arts Society talk on Lilian Baylis
In the early 1900s, Lilian Baylis took charge of the Old Vic Theatre, then a Temperance Hall selling coffee and ginger beer, and was asked to put on entertainments for local working-class people. Using ginger beer crates for scenery, she staged opera, Shakespeare and ballet, leading her to create the English National Opera, Royal National Theatre and The Royal Ballet. This talk charts the achievement of Lilian Baylis and the stars she worked with.
Lilian Baylis, the supremely pragmatic manager of the Old Vic and Sadler’s Wells, is a theatrical enigma. She is still remembered as a comic Cockney with a talent for devastating one-liners and frying supper for her employees in the wings.
This talk covers new ground. Based on a collaboration with Zoë Anderson, ballet critic and writer, we’ve discovered another Lilian. A woman who constantly reinvented herself to keep her theatres going, she comes across as extraordinary as ever, but considerably more formidable.