Sir Ian McKellen is lending his support to an earthquake-struck theatre in Christchurch.
Isaac Theatre Royal, in which McKellen performed in Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot in 2010, was damaged when a 6.3 magnitude earthquake struct Christchurch in February 2011.
In order to fund the theatre’s restoration McKellen is taking a solo show around New Zealand with a bit of Shakespeare, a bit of Gandalf and the chance for the audience shout out any questions to the veteran gay actor.
The show, Ian McKellen on Stage with Shakespeare, Tolkien and You! is in Hamilton on the north island on Saturday, before traveling to Tauranga, Nelson, Auckland, Christchurch, Lake Wanaka, Hastings, Wellington and Carterton up until the end of June.
McKellen, 73, who is in New Zealand filming The Hobbit, reprising his spellbinding performance as Gandalf the wizard from The Lord of the Rings trilogy, said to local newspaper Hamilton Press:
‘I have done quite a few solo shows in the past, one about Shakespeare, one about being gay, but this one is very much in response to the times; it will be a real Kiwi effort where the focus is on spontaneity. I will do a bit of acting including Shakespeare, Lord of the Rings and I will talk about anything anybody wants to know.’
When asked about gay rights, for which he has campaigned for decades, McKellen said:
‘We are now in a period of flux where old laws are seen to be cruel and unnecessary, and they are gradually dropping off the constitutional tree as it were. New Zealand had gotten to grips before many other civilised places of this unnecessary problem so rooted in the past where people saw gay people as so different and that they had to be treated differently by the law. I have done a few bits in the UK and I have noticed a great deal of change for the better.’