entertainment

Sir Ian McKellen 'honoured' to have Edinburgh theatre named after him

The esteemed actor, 83, has lent his name to the 300-seat venue at Saint Stephens in the Scottish capital

2022-09-30

Words: Alastair James; pictures: Attitude, Devin De Vil, and Provided

Sir Ian McKellen is "honoured" to have a theatre in Edinburgh named after him. 

The esteemed actor, 83, has lent his name to the 300-seat venue at Saint Stephens in the Scottish capital after his acclaimed performance in Hamlet alongside the Edinburgh Festival Ballet at the 2022 Edinburgh Fringe. 

The performance saw McKellen share the titular role with lead dancer Johan Christensen as The Lord of the Rings actor recited Hamlet's famous speeches and soliloquies.

Ian McKellen with dancer Johan Christensen, who shared the role of Hamlet at the 2022 Fringe (Photo: Devin De Vil)

Hamlet, which was directed and choreographed by Peter Schaufuss, was seen by a record-breaking 13,000 people over the course of the Fringe and named 'Best Event Theatre at the Fringe by Theatre Weekly.

The production was used to launch the 450-seat Ashton Hall at Saint Stephens, a new venue in Edinburgh. 

Reacting to the announcement Sir Ian McKellen himself says, "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."

The 300-seat Ian McKellen Theatre at Saint Stephens (Photo: Provided)

Peter Schaufuss adds, "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."

Praising McKellen as "the greatest actor of his generation" Schaufuss goes on to say that "we were thrilled to have him lead our company," and "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 continues: "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."

The Attitude September/October issue is out now.