Last night I was invited to the opening night of the Dorfman Theatre, formerly the Cottosloe. This consummated the sponsorship of Lloyd Dorfman and the company he founded Travelex with the National Theatre. Travelex tickets at £10 have been available since 2003. The Dorfman Theatre was the Cottesloe – a space where the more innovative productions were set. It has not just been renamed but had a total uplift with improved seating and amenities. It has to be said that previously it was not the most comfortable seat in town and the amount of ladies loos were ( I am reliably informed) unsatisfactory.
After a reception and a few words from Lloyd Dorfman, who was clearly and justifiably proud that his family name was given to one of the National Theatres, performances were acted from plays written by Shakespeare, Shaw and Eugene O’Neill to modern playwrights such as David Hare, Patrick Marber and Mark Ravenhill. In a time of cuts and lack of funding the arts are fortunate to have such a philanthropist. I was at school with Lloyd Dorfman who was an enthusiastic actor so there is no doubting his deep love of the theatre. One or two critics who clearly do not know him have made cynical observations about his ego but these are unwarranted. Very few people I have met actually knew who the former Cottesloe was or did. He was in fact the civil servant of the LCC who supervised the National Theatre project. The Cottesloe family were approached when the first soundings were made and they were happy for the theatre to be retitled.
Those that know Lloyd Dorfman, as I have for over 45 years, will also attest that despite his enormous wealth and success in commerce he is a warm, family man genuinely pleased to be involved and assist so much in our National Theatre.