WORDS, WORDS, WORDS
Written by Anthology with commentary by Ian McKellen
Ian McKellen in the role of Solo recital of favourite writings
UK, Edinburgh, Belfast, Yorkshire
5 September 1976 - 13 November 1977
Words from Ian McKellen
This 2 hour anthology which juxtaposed high literature with low, was compiled hurriedly between performances at The Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon. For its premiere at the 1976 International Festival, I drove to Edinburgh after the Saturday matinee of “Romeo and Juliet” on 4 September and was back in time for the Monday evening performance of the same play. This was a daring schedule considering the press night for “Macbeth” the following Thursday evening after a matinee of “The Winter’s Tale”!
My first visit to Northern Ireland (21 November: Queen’s University Festival, Belfast) was educative, observing at close quarters the residents of Belfast dodging terrorist explosions and the responding security forces. An interview at the BBC headquarters was conducted behind barbed wire and bomb-proof doors. The annual arts festival was, however, a safe affair. Indeed throughout the Troubles, Queen’s University seems to have been off-limits to the IRA and other disaffected groups. I stayed in the infamous Europa Hotel in the city centre, the most bombed hotel in the world, where there were never any casualties: journalists favoured the Europa but they were always warned well in advance of any planned destruction. — Ian McKellen, June 2001
Programme Note (1976): “This recital is compiled from some of my favourite words. My only theme is the beauty, complexity and glory of the English language as I’ve relished it in private and as an actor. The running order is not reliable”
Part one: Poetry – Shakespeare, Marlowe, Raleigh, Donne, Marvell; D.H.Lawrence, William Wordsworth, G.M. Hopkins, John Betjeman. NonLit. English. Drama – “Richard II”.
Part Two: “Macbeth”. Letters – Raleigh, Dr.Johnson, Mark Twain, Rupert Brooke. Drama – “Too True to be Good” G.B.Shaw.