We're delighted to welcome the iconic actor, Oliver Ford Davies, to the OT stage as a guest in our exclusive series of discussions, Under the Orange Tree.  

Hosted by Michael Billington, Oliver Ford Davies will discuss his memoir An Actor's Life in 12 Productions where he explores the many changes within the performing arts scene over the past 60 years through his experiences on various stages, during his illustrious career.

Oliver is no stranger to the OT, having performed in productions such as The Promise, Larkin with Women and The Linden Tree as well as mounting the world premiere of his play King Cromwell in 2003.

The Under the Orange Tree series helps the OT – a registered charity - achieve the £500,000 fundraised income required every year in addition to ticket sales. Proceeds from the event will support all aspects of the theatre's activities: enabling us to present our award-winning mix of revivals, rediscoveries and new works to audiences all over the world, as well as introducing primary school children to Shakespeare.

Don’t miss this unrivalled opportunity to see great artists talk up-close at the OT.  

After attaining a D Phil at Oxford University, Oliver Ford Davies became a history lecturer at Edinburgh University 1964-66. In 1967 he became an actor, starting at the Birmingham Rep. Since 1975 he has appeared in over 30 productions for the RSC, most recently in Henry V, Richard II, Polonius in Hamlet and Pandarus in Troilus and Cressida.

At the National Theatre he won an Olivier Best Actor award for David Hare’s Racing Demon, and has appeared in Peter Gynt, Galileo, St Joan and Much Ado About Nothing. At the Almeida Theatre he appeared in Ivanov, Naked and played King Lear in 2002. At the Orange Tree he has recently appeared in Larkin with Women, The Linden Trees and The Promise.

His many television appearances include five series of Kavanagh QC, David Copperfield, guest leads in Poirot, Foyle’s War and Midsomer Murders, and most recently Game of Thrones and Catastrophe. Films include Star Wars 1,2 & 3, Johnny English, Mrs Brown, Christopher Robin, The Mother, Sense and Sensibility, The Deep Blue Sea, The Danish Girl and Atonement.

Publications include Playing Lear, Performing Shakespeare, Shakespeare’s Fathers and Daughters, his play King Cromwell and his memoir An Actor's Life in 12 Productions.

Michael Billington studied at Oxford University – where he was a member of the Dramatic Society – graduating in 1961. He began working as an arts critic for the Liverpool Daily Post & Echo, then from 1962 to 1964, he served as public liaison officer and director for the Lincoln Theatre Company, in Lincolnshire. From 1965 to 1971, he reviewed television, films, and plays as an arts critic for The Times; from 1968 to 1978, was also film reviewer for the Birmingham Post, and from 1968 to 1981, for The Illustrated London News. In October 1971, he left The Times to become theatre critic for The Guardian. Beginning in the 1980s, he was a London arts correspondent for The New York Times, and, since 1988, he has also served as drama critic for Country Life.

Billington's broadcasting career started in 1965 on the BBC Third Programme. Later, he was a presenter (and participant) in Critics Forum (Radio 3), which ended in 1990, and the Kaleidoscope arts programme (Radio 4).

He is the author of several biographical and critical studies of subjects relating to British theatre and the arts, including books about Peggy Ashcroft, Tom Stoppard, and Alan Ayckbourn, as well as being the official authorised biographer of Harold Pinter, published in 1996. In March 2007 Faber and Faber published Billington's book State of the Nation: British Theatre Since 1945, which won the 2007 annual Theatre Book Prize from The Society for Theatre Research. His book The 101 Greatest Plays: From Antiquity to the Present was published in 2015.

Billington leaft his role as The Guardian's chief theatre critic at the end of 2019, although he continues to write for the newspaper as well as reviewing for Country Life.