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Ian McKellen launches fund to pay actors wages as his donations to British Theatre top £5million

Sir Ian McKellen is launching a new fund for emerging producers to cover performers’ wages, as it was announced today his donations to British theatre have topped £5million.

The fund will be distributed via ATG Productions and will offer multiple funding rounds with grants up to £25,000 to pay actors’ wages for new plays and revivals across UK theatre. Applicants must ensure their production employs six actors or more and includes a recent graduate from a theatre training school.

McKellen, Ambassador Theatre Group Productions and Sean Mathias are donating profits from licensing the broadcast of his solo show Ian McKellen On Stage to create the fund. Filmed by National Theatre Live in front of an audience in January 2020, the show is now available to watch on Amazon Prime.

McKellen said: “Performing Ian McKellen on Stage was a joy and I am delighted it can now be viewed on Amazon Prime Video as filmed by National Theatre Live. As our theatres reopen, I’m very pleased to be able to support producers and artists who have really struggled over the past year.

McKellen’s solo show, which toured the UK extensively and was devised to celebrate his 80th birthday year, earned £3 million for more than 80 UK theatres. Including proceeds raised for theatre charities during the show’s extended run at London’s Harold Pinter Theatre, the total now raised is more than £5 million.

Profits from the licensing deal will be combined with the remaining profits from the West End run of the show to create the fund.

Directed by Sean Mathias, the critically acclaimed Ian McKellen on Stage is an intimate mixture of anecdote and acting including Tolkien, Shakespeare and many others, which the Daily Telegraph positioned as “the Theatre event of the year” (2019).

McKellen received a special Olivier Award in recognition of his fundraising. He will next be seen on stage in Hamlet at the Theatre Royal Windsor this month.


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