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Ian McKellen at Newcastle Theatre Royal

A young Ian McKellen remakes Shakespeare's Richard II for a modern audience at Newcastle Theatre Royal.

Magazine and Review show 1968 3 mins

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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. McKellen 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.