Sir Ian McKellen Puts on a Dazzling One-Man Shakespeare Show

Long before he played Gan­dalf or Mag­ne­to, Sir Ian McK­ellen was known as one of the finest stage actors in Eng­land. A stand out in the Roy­al Shake­speare Com­pa­ny, Sir Ian played the lead in its 1974 stag­ing of Doc­tor Faus­tus and its 1977 stag­ing of Mac­beth. He was made a Com­man­der of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 1979 almost entire­ly because of his stage work.

If you want a sense of just how good Sir Ian is, watch his one-man show Act­ing Shake­speare. You can see it in its entire­ty above.

Devel­oped on the road in the late ‘70s, the show is part a schol­ar­ly his­to­ry of the Bard, part an auto­bi­o­graph­i­cal yarn and part a great­est hits of Shakespeare’s speech­es. And Sir Ian is absolute­ly daz­zling. At one point, he gives a spot on imper­son­ation of Sir John Giel­gud. At anoth­er he per­forms a scene from Romeo and Juli­et play­ing both Romeo and Juli­et. He shifts effort­less­ly from giv­ing a solil­o­quy by Ham­let to deliv­er­ing a wit­ty anec­dote about life on the stage with sense of tim­ing of a vet­er­an stand-up come­di­an.

Act­ing Shake­speare is a 95-minute long sus­tained dis­play of act­ing bravu­ra. It’s pret­ty enter­tain­ing too. Seri­ous­ly, check it out.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Find Shake­speare’s Plays in Our Free eBooks and Free Audio Books Col­lec­tions

Jonathan Crow is a Los Ange­les-based writer and film­mak­er whose work has appeared in Yahoo!, The Hol­ly­wood Reporter, and oth­er pub­li­ca­tions. You can fol­low him at @jonccrow.

by | Permalink | Comments (0) |

Sup­port Open Cul­ture

We’re hop­ing to rely on our loy­al read­ers rather than errat­ic ads. To sup­port Open Cul­ture’s edu­ca­tion­al mis­sion, please con­sid­er mak­ing a dona­tion. We accept Pay­Pal, Ven­mo (@openculture), Patre­on and Cryp­to! Please find all options here. We thank you!

Leave a Reply

Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.