Sir Ian returns to Edinburgh stage to mark his 80th birthday with solo festival show
ACTOR Sir Ian Mckellen, known for his big-screen fame as Gandalf in Lord of the Rings as well as his Shakespearian prowess on stage, is to return to the Edinburgh International Festival next year.
Sir Ian will perform in a new production that marks his 80th birthday.
It is part of a new 80-date UK tour which is also designed to raise funds for local theatres and drama provision.
In Edinburgh, this will include raising money for equipment and refurbishment for the Leith Academy drama studio.
He will also raise money for a bursary for a young person from Edinburgh to study performance.
Ian Mckellen On Stage will play at Edinburgh’s Assembly Hall from August 22 to 25 next year.
He said: “I’m celebrating my 80th birthday by touring a new solo show to theatres I know well and a few that I don’t.
“The evening starts with Gandalf and will probably end with an invitation to act with me on stage.
“In-between there will be anecdotes and acting. I open at my local arts centre in January and end up by August in Orkney.”
He added: “Live theatre has always been thrilling to me, as an actor and in the audience.
“Growing up in Lancashire, I was grateful to those companies who toured beyond London and I’ve always enjoyed repaying that debt by touring up and down the country myself, with the National Theatre, Royal Shakespeare Company, Prospect Theatre, the Actors’ Company, as well as with commercial productions.
“At the Edinburgh International Festival in 1969 I played Edward II and Richard II together at the Assembly Hall.
“My return is a chance to remember the old days and reprise Shakespeare and others.”
The production of Edward II was radical in its portrayal of the monarch’s homosexual relationships, “challenging public prejudice of the time and provoking controversy in a ground-breaking moment for the International Festival,” the EIF said.
Sir Ian, who was born in Burnley and who grew up in Wigan and Bolton, returned to the International Festival throughout the 1970s, most notably with his newly formed cooperative, The Actors’ Company, in 1972.
Performances of Ruling the Roost and ‘Tis A Pity She’s A Whore featured Sir Ian and Felicity Kendal in supporting roles as a page and a maid, allowing fellow company members to take the starring roles.
Sir Ian has had a varied and lauded career on stage and screen.
He gained renown for his Shakespearian performances, including as Richard II, Macbeth, Coriolanus, Iago, Richard III (also on film) and most recently as King Lear.
Mckellen has also made popular films: he portrayed Magneto in the X-men films and Gandalf in Tolkien’s Middle Earth films.
He won his first Oscar nomination as Best Actor, as the film director James Whale, in Bill Condon’s 1998 Gods and Monsters. He has also starred in The Da Vinci Code, Mr Holmes, and Beauty and the Beast.
His television work stretches from Rasputin to Coronation Street, from Extras with Ricky Gervais to Vicious with Derek Jacobi.
Sir Ian Mckellen’s new tour is designed to raise funds for local theatres and drama provision throughout the country. The actor appeared in Richard II in Edinburgh in 1969. Sir Ian onstage at the Edinburgh International Festival in 1969.
Sir Ian with Felicity Kendal in ‘Tis Pity She’s A Whore in 1972.
The actor has had a varied and successful career on stage and screen.