Sunday 4th September sees the return of Sir Ian McKellen to the Belgrade Theatre 50 years to the date of his first performance in A Man For All Seasons by Robert Bolt. Sir Ian played the character William Roper who became the son-in-law of Sir Thomas More, Lord Chancellor of England beheaded by Henry VIII in 1535.
A Man For All Seasons was Sir Ian’s first professional role after reading English at Cambridge. He was employed by the Belgrade Theatre for the season, earning a princely sum of £9 per week. He went on to appear in a further 17 plays at the Belgrade until moving to Ipswich in 1962. Some of his fellow cast members during the season included Leonard Rossiter, Bernard Horsfall, Ronald Magill and Sheila Keith.
An amazingly versatile actor Sir Ian has performed Shakespeare, Chekhov, Ibsen and Beckett. However he has also played Widow Twankey in pantomime, appeared in Coronation Street and featured in an episode of The Simpsons!
Sir Ian has appeared in many films including recent blockbusters such as the Da Vinci Code and as Gandalf in the Lord of the Rings trilogy.
Whilst at Cambridge Sir Ian met Sir Trevor Nunn, who became a director at the Belgrade and was appointed resident producer in 1963. They have worked together many times during their careers most recently during 2007-2008 when Nunn directed Sir Ian as King Lear.
The History Centre holds copies of past Belgrade Theatre programmes, news cuttings and photographs of productions. Anyone is welcome to come into view them but we do ask people to bring with them some identification or a Reader’s Ticket. Looking back at past programmes it is amazing to see how many well-known actors have walked the boards here in Coventry.
Sir Ian McKellen Official Website: http://www.mckellen.com/index.html
History Centre JN 792 Belgrade Theatre Programmes 1960-61
History Centre JN 792 Belgrade Theatre Programmes 1962-63