Unsupported browser

For a better experience please update your browser to its latest version.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

a life in architecture

  • Comment

In an age when actors tend to concentrate on a career in movies, Ian McKellen seems somewhat old-fashioned. For, despite his recent Oscar- nominated performance in the film Gods and Monsters, the Lancashire-born actor-knight is very much a man of the theatre. Not surprisingly, he cites theatres as among the key buildings in his life; in particular, those designed by Frank Matcham, whose buildings include London's Coliseum and Palladium, as well as a host of theatres and opera houses in the provinces.

'Matcham's the man who designed the great late nineteenth-century theatres, like the Royal in Newcastle, Her Majesty's in Edinburgh, and the Grand in Leeds [pictured],' says McKellen. 'They were all roughly of the same proportions and design - heavily decorated auditoria, with a certain opulence and dignity, acoustics were invariably good. I've acted in all of them.

'When you get a full house in one of those theatres, large as they are - 1200, 1300 people - there's something about the proportions and the relationship of the stage to the auditorium which is all-inclusive and which turns this large building into, well, a house. It's a lovely word for a theatre isn't it, a house? The whole building concentrates itself down to one figure on the stage, one voice.'

Demetrios Matheou

  • Comment

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions.

Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.