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ATW - Downstage Center

357 EpisodesProduced by American Theatre WingWebsite

The American Theatre Wing presents Downstage Center a weekly theatrical interview show, featuring the top artists working in theatre, both on and Off-Broadway and around the country.


Sir Ian McKellen (#290) - October, 2010

One of the greatest classical actors of his generation, Sir Ian McKellen reflects on his more than 50 years on stage, explaining that he's really only qualified to voice his opinion on two topics: gay issues and theatre. He talks about the recent production of "Waiting for Godot" in which he played opposite Patrick Stewart in London, then Roger Rees in both London and Australia, and which he'd happily perform in yet again (and wonders what the production would have been like had director Sean Mathias have received approval for McKellen's originally proposed co-star, Dame Judi Dench); why he feels that despite performing it in venues around the world, he never really "cracked" the role of "King Lear" and would like to try again; offers his first thoughts on recalling such roles as Iago, Macbeth, Richard II and Richard III; explains the British system which allowed him to move into a professional career quickly after his university days despite having no formal acting training; how he found himself on Broadway with Ian McShane and Eileen Atkins -- only six years after graduating from university -- in a Russian play that was a big English hit but a U.S. flop; explores the experience of playing the leading role in "Bent" in both the original production, prior to coming out publicly, and playing it again 10 years later after he had declared his sexuality; and why without his Broadway performance in "Amadeus", which was entirely the result of Paul Scofield declining to play it in the U.S. and McKellen having gone to school with Peter Hall, he might not even be sitting for a Downstage Center interview. Original air date - October 20, 2010.

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