about Sylvester

Acting days

Letter offering employment at the Old Vic

Sylvester was demobbed early at the end of the war and took a job at the Old Vic playing alongside Laurence Olivier, Ralph Richardson and Sybil Thorndike… as a member of the crowd or a spear carrier, as required.

As an old greybeard in Oedipus Rex

At the same time he studied at the Central School of Drama which was then billetted at the Royal Albert Hall.

Then I saw a taxi charging past. So I called him. I told him the Albert Hall first. I told him could he hurry? He pushed back the window behind him and said to me half over his shoulder: “Have you up there on the stage in seven minutes, love.” He drove off, twisting the cab around in the street: “What turn you in, love, is it the Scotch dancing or the boxing?”
Kind old sod.
“No,” I said, “actually I’m the new bird for the bird show.”
“Ow, didn’t know you’d got your wings,” he said.
At the Albert Hall I told him to wait. Only I didn’t tell him how long. I walked in through the ticket office part, then I walked upstairs to the Crush Room, then all around through the long circular walk, down to the other entrance, and out round to the next floor, then down a bit, then along, along some more, then right, then left––you know it’s so big you could get lost there a week. Then right, then left, then out round to the back, then out through the little door and out along past the university and off to the coffee bar.

From: What the World Owes Me by Mary Bowes

He billetted himself with his friend Harry Bloom and his wife in an old tenement block in New Compton Street where they made an inimitable trio. Old Letch was inspired by this period – here he is taking a bath –reminiscent of the cover designed by his friend Malcolm Hart for Old Letch.

Sylvester having a bath
in a New Compton Street

In 1946 he joined Beatrix Lehmann's repertory company, the Arts Council Midland Theatre, based in Coventry. The critics found him "excellent as a diffident and awkward schoolboy."

Sylvester in The Maitlands as a diffident and awkward schoolboy

Returned to SA 1947 and joined the Munro-Inglis Company in The Winslow Boy.