Film ID: NEFA 21823 Video of NEFA 21823 Ian McKellen at NewcastleTheatre Royal TODAY AT SIX: IAN MCKELLEN AT NEWCASTLE THEATRE ROYAL 1968 Visitor TabsDescription A Tyne Tees Television news magazine report transmitted 19 November 1968 on a new production of William Shakespeare’s Richard II taking place at the Theatre Royal in Newcastle by the Prospect Theatre Company with an interview with the lead actor Ian McKellen. The report begins on stage at the Theatre Royal in Newcastle with a scene from a new production of Richard II featuring Ian McKellen in the lead role. McKellen is interviewed on stage. The reporter ask him about the different approach he has taken in playing Richard II by giving him ‘a great deal of virility’. Ian replies that his aim was to make the play relevant to a 20th century audience. He looked for a 20th century counterpart to this ‘curious medieval king’ and found it in the Dalai Lama of Tibet. Ian is then asked how this thinking has affected his performance. He replies by saying that rather than concentrating on the beautiful words, he has gone for something that would be immediately recognisable by modern audiences. During the play, Richard loses his throne as well as his divinity and he has a nervous breakdown and a heart attack on stage. The play ends with him losing his sanity as he grapples with the idea that he is not a king or god but a man. Context Playing tough with a king A young Ian McKellen remakes Shakespeare’s Richard II for a modern audience at Newcastle Theatre Royal. A future star of the stage and screen, Ian McKellen treads the boards at Newcastle Theatre Royal, rehearsing Shakespeare’s Richard II. The young actor explains how the Dalai Llama became his modern counterpart for an interpretation of the downfall of ‘a medieval king who thought he was God’, a role he plays with all the psychological insight of the 60s era. McKellan had his first Shakespearean triumph with this touring production for the Prospect Theatre Company in 1968. McKellen has said ‘I found further confirmation that Richard’s fate had a modern relevance – in Hollywood, a city littered with the corpses of stars who were treated as superhuman and could not cope with the strain.’ In addition to his acting success (including big screen roles as Gandalf in Lord of the Rings and Magneto in X-Men), he is renowned for his political activism on behalf of the LGBTQ community. Long discrete about his sexuality, the actor, aged 49, publicly came out on BBC Radio in 1988 as a political act to fight the introduction of the Thatcher government’s notorious Section 28, which made it illegal to ‘promote’ homosexuality in schools. He was also a co-founder of gay rights lobby group Stonewall.