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Ian McKellen, Royal Shakespeare Company for Akld

MEDIA RELEASE: Thursday 8 March FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Ian McKellen and Royal Shakespeare Company to Perform in Auckland

Internationally-acclaimed actor Ian McKellen, will lead the renowned Royal Shakespeare Company in two new productions of classic theatre for a strictly limited season in the ASB Theatre, Aotea Centre, THE EDGE® in August.

THE EDGE® presents The Royal Shakespeare Company’s productions of Shakespeare’s King Lear and Chekhov’s The Seagull from August 18-26 for 10 perfomances only as part of the inaugural THE EDGE® International Arts Season – a season of internationally recognised performing arts which runs from August to December 2007. The full season programme will be launched on Thursday 19 April.

“It gives us great pleasure to be announcing the Royal Shakespeare Company season for Auckland, “ THE EDGE® Director, Performing Arts Robbie Macrae says. “Our international arts season seeks to celebrate the very best that there is in the world and there is no doubting the calibre of this company.”

The Royal Shakespeare Company’s productions of King Lear and The Seagull reunite Ian McKellen and director Trevor Nunn, two of the towering figures of British theatre, with the RSC for the first time in 17 years. Their work together at the celebrated company during the 70s and 80s, with McKellen starring and Nunn directing, was considered a golden period.

“To play King Lear is the greatest of acting challenges. I am fortunate to be with such talented old and new colleagues who relish the play as much as I do. Bringing our production, along with The Seagull, to Auckland will only add to the excitement of being back with the Royal Shakespeare Company in the job of a lifetime,” says McKellen.

And McKellen adds he is looking forward to returning to New Zealand. “I made few requests in planning the tour, but one was that the RSC should return to the welcome of New Zealand, where I spent one of my happiest and most fulfilling years as an actor filming Lord of the Rings.”

Although McKellen has appeared in two previous productions of King Lear it has never been in the title role. Says Nunn, “I have been looking forward to the fulfilment of the vow Ian McKellen and I made that one day we would do King Lear together.”

Described by the Mail on Sunday (UK) as “one of the leading creative artists of our time,” McKellen has had a stellar career on stage and, more recently, screen. Most widely known as Gandalf in the blockbuster trilogy Lord of the Rings, McKellen’s other film credits include the X-Men trilogy, The Da Vinci Code, Gods and Monsters and Richard III.

Trevor Nunn was one of the RSC’s most visionary and creative artistic directors during his period at the company from 1968 to 1987. Apart from the landmark seasons of Shakespeare, Nunn was also responsible for the brilliant production of Dicken’s Nicholas Nickleby, which he co-directed with John Caird. He went on to be a director at the National Theatre in London, and has had an extremely successful transition to the commercial sector with Cats (1981) and the first English production of Les Misérables (1985). His recent credits include Tom Stoppard’s new play Rock ‘n’ Roll, currently playing in London’s West End, and Porgy and Bess which opened at the Savoy in London in November 2006.

In The Seagull McKellen plays Sorin, a role he will alternate with well-known theatre, film and television actor William Gaunt. The lead role of Arkadina will be performed by Frances Barber.

Joining McKellen on stage in King Lear is Sylvester McCoy as The Fool, best known as the seventh doctor in Dr Who.

This much anticipated season of King Lear and The Seagull debuts at the RSC at Stratford-upon-Avon in March. The production comes to New Zealand direct from England via Singapore and Melbourne prior to a debut season in New York.

Tickets for The Royal Shakespeare Company’s productions of King Lear and The Seagull will be on sale through Ticketek from Friday 20 April. Special packages will be available until Friday 18 May and all remaining single tickets will be on sale from Saturday 19 May.


ENDS

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