“In the decade since Laurence Olivier retired from the National Theatre at the Old Vic theatre, British theatres have been ruled not by actors but by directors. Coincidentally over the same period, there has been a total decline in the numbers of acting companies working together for long periods. Those regional thatres, where actors of our generation learned our business, cannot nowadays afford to retain such companies. Even in this theatre, there is no pattern of prolonged contracts such as are available to actors working in the national theatres of Europe. British actors are in danger of becoming mere casual employees.
We are delighted to accept Peter Hall’s invitation to organise a company of seventeen actors - Eleanor Bron, Selina Cadell, Simon Dutton, Sheila Hancock, Greg Hicks, Jonathan Hyde, Roy Kinnear, Julie Legrand, Hugh Lloyd, Stephen MacDonald, Ian McKellen, Claire Moore, Edward Petherbridge, Laurence Rudic, Dikran Tulaine and Tristram Wymark. Neither of us will direct the plays. Every member of the group will be understudying — signed Ian McKellen & Edward Petherbridge."