Tuesday 2 July
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Ian McKellen arrives at Lighthouse, Poole’s centre for the arts, on Tuesday 2 July as part of an 80-date UK tour to celebrate his eightieth birthday with a new solo show.
He is visiting theatres large and small with which he has personal connections, including amateur groups he knew as a child and playhouses he has appeared in over the last half-century. The first half of his intimate show is a mixture of anecdotes from his career, an extract from The Lord of the Rings and a handful of poems. The second half is focused solely on Shakespeare where Ian, with the help of the audience, lists all 37 plays and Ian revisits speeches from those in which he has performed.
“I’m celebrating my 80th birthday by touring a new solo show to theatres I know well and a few that I don’t,” he says. “The show starts with Gandalf and will probably end with an invitation to act with me on stage. In-between there will be anecdotes and acting.
“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. Sean Mathias, the director and I have worked together for stage and screen, many happy times.
“I was last onstage in Poole with the RSC’s small scale tour of Twelfth Night and Three Sisters 40 years ago. I’m delighted to be back as I revisit other theatres up and down the UK. All profits will benefit Lighthouse aptly named Poole’s centre for the arts.”
Ian McKellen is taking no payment for this performance and has asked for all the income from the show to go towards the Bright Sparks programme at Lighthouse that will enable and inspire talented people to develop professionally in a wide range of roles across the arts sector. Developing young talent is not just about giving opportunities to artists, but also to the huge range of people that work hard behind the scenes. Bright Sparks will give opportunities to countless young people and will ensure that the arts in Dorset will continue to flourish.
In the last three years, Lighthouse has worked with more than 80 young people on learning initiatives.
Bright Sparks includes projects such as the Young Technicians programme to give hands-on experience of all areas associated with lighting, sound and AV for theatre, concerts, cinema and live events. It also covers our Internship scheme that in the last four years has given ten local graduates their first full-time paid roles in a career in arts administration.