IAN McKellen is preparing to celebrate his 80th birthday next year by raising funds for theatres with a new solo show.
Sir Ian will take to the RSC stage in Stratford twice on Sunday July 21 – in the Swan Theatre at 2.30pm and the Royal Shakespeare Theatre at 7.30pm – with all proceeds from the performances going towards the company’s Stitch in Time campaign to restore and redevelop its costume workshop.
The veteran actor’s show will feature a mixture of anecdotes and acting, including Tolkien, Shakespeare and others.
Sir Ian said: “I first came to the old Memorial Theatre in Stratford (now the Royal Shakespeare Theatre) as a schoolboy, camping at Tiddington and queuing through the night for half a crown standing places at the back of the stalls. There I saw the theatre giants of my youth.
“In 1976 for the RSC I was Romeo, Leontes and Macbeth (with Judi Dench). Most recently I was King Lear in The Courtyard Theatre (the RSC’s temporary theatre whilst the RST was redeveloped), followed by a world tour. So it’s with gratitude and excitement that I’ll be making my debut in the Swan Theatre, and on the same day be back on the main stage where I last performed with Prince Charles as part of Shakespeare Live! From The RSC – which marked the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death – in 2016.
“In my new solo show I can share memories of Stratford and reprise Shakespeare. There’ll also be a chance for you to get on stage with me. All profits will support the Stitch In Time campaign, restoring and redeveloping the RSC’s costume workshops.”
RSC actor Gregory Doran welcomed Sir Ian’s support of the costume workshop restoration.
He said: “We are grateful that the proceeds from the performances will go towards Stitch in Time, our public fund-raising campaign to restore and redevelop our Costume Workshop, which has £250,000 left to raise.
“The RSC has the largest in-house costume-making department of any British theatre, but the current workshops are in urgent need of attention to create modern-day costume-making facilities.”
Sir Ian’s solo show tour will take in 80 venues across Britain. He will visit theatres large and small with which he has personal connections and happy memories, including amateur groups he knew as a child and notable playhouses he has played in as a professional actor over the past half-century.
Booking for the Stratford shows opens on Wednesday November 14 at 10am. Visit rsc.org.uk for further details.
* Sir Ian will also make his debut on the Warwick Arts Centre on Sunday May 19.
The performance will raise money in support of the a youth theatre group for underprivileged young people in Canley.
Visit www.warwickartscentre.co.uk for tickets.