Sir Ian McKellen is to have a theatre named in his honour, The Ian McKellen Theatre at Saint Stephens in Edinburgh follows his acclaimed season of Hamlet, which was seen at the venue by a record-breaking 13,000 theatregoers at the Fringe.
Ian McKellen performing in Hamlet with Edinburgh Festival Ballet proved to be the hottest ticket at the 2022 Edinburgh Fringe.
His dance version of Hamlet, with Ian performing Hamlet’s famous speeches and soliloquies and sharing the role of Hamlet onstage together with lead dancer Johan Christensen, was a 100% sold-out hit, seen by a record-breaking 13,000 people.
Named Best Event Theatre at the Fringe by Theatre Weekly, Hamlet launched the 450-seat Ashton Hall at Saint Stephens Edinburgh, a new all-year performance venue in the Scottish capital from the legendary dance producer, director and choreographer, Peter Schaufuss, and named after the famous choreographer, the late Sir Frederick Ashton.
Peter Schaufuss, who directed and choreographed Hamlet, said: “Since the Fringe ended we have created a second 300-seat theatre underneath the Ashton Hall, at St Stephens and I am delighted to announce that Ian has accepted our offer to name the venue in his honour – The Ian McKellen Theatre at Saint Stephens.
Ian McKellen said: “Peter Schaufuss’ unique contribution to Edinburgh’s cultural life, during and beyond the annual festival, is now enhanced by his new theatre at St Stephens. I am honoured that it will bear my name.”
Peter Schaufuss said: “Ian is the greatest actor of his generation and we were thrilled to have him lead our company in ‘Hamlet’. Thanks to his involvement, we were the only genuine sold-out hit of the Fringe – we sold every ticket at every performance from the first preview and could have easily extended the run. He generously led our company and the beanie hat he wore in each performance of ‘Hamlet’ was auctioned after the show, raising £12,000 to support a bursary fund bearing his name that will now help future young dance students at Edinburgh Festival Ballet School. Now his involvement with our company will live on in this new all-year-round performance venue for Scotland.”
Ian McKellen, during his career of 60 years, has received as many major international awards for his performances on stage, screen and television. Much of this work has been in Shakespeare at the National Theatre and for the Royal Shakespeare Company on tour, at home and abroad. He particularly relished playing Macbeth with Judi Dench (RSC), Coriolanus with Irene Worth (NT) and Richard III with Maggie Smith (in his award-winning film). 50 years ago he played Hamlet on tour in the UK, Europe and in the West End. Last year he was again Hamlet in Sean Mathias’ season at Windsor Theatre Royal.
He has often been part of the Edinburgh Festival, most recently in his 8Oth birthday solo show in the Assembly Hall, where he made his Scottish début in ‘Richard 11’ and ‘Edward 11’ (1969).
He was appointed Companion of Honour (2007) for his services to Drama and Equality, in recognition of his LGBT activism.