Sir Ian McKellen to fund internships at Belfast's Lyric Theatre

Published: 2 July 2019
Reporter: Michael Quinn

Sir Ian McKellen in year-long 80th birthday celebrations Credit: Oliver Rosser, Feast Creative

Sir Ian McKellen is to donate profits from his sold-out appearances at Belfast’s Lyric Theatre this summer to fund two new posts and programmes aimed at developing young Northern Irish talent.

McKellen’s visit to Belfast will mark the theatrical knight and Hollywood star’s debut on the Lyric stage and comes as part of his 80th birthday nationwide tour. Launched in January, and continuing until mid-September, a limited West End run was recently announced at the Harold Pinter Theatre from late September to early January 2020.

Announcing his six-date visit to four venues in the region, McKellen said: “I wanted to include Northern Ireland in the tour celebrating my 80th birthday as my ancestors lived close by 200 years ago. Profits will go towards a technical apprenticeship, the New Playwright mentor programme and a trainee director scheme”.

Executive producer at the Lyric, Jimmy Fay, commented: “we are delighted that Ian has chosen the Lyric Theatre to be part of his 80th birthday tour and welcome the opportunity to continue nurturing local talent. As Northern Ireland’s only full-time producing theatre, we strive to be a creative hub for theatre-making, nurturing talent, and promoting the critical role of the arts in society.”

He added: “this funding has allowed us to create two new, exciting roles that will provide vital hands-on experience for individuals hoping to work in theatre.”

Applications for the two new posts have already opened with a deadline of July 16.

McKellen’s Northern Ireland appearances include the Lyric, Belfast (July 25–26), Waterside, Derry (July 27), Braid Arts Centre, Ballymena (July 29) and Theatre at the Mill, Newtownabbey (July 31–August 1).