When The Players Met McKellen
by Robert Eyers
On Sunday Sir Ian McKellen was in college to visit the Master, and kindly agreed to take tea with the Pembroke Players. It was a lovely day, and we were warmed simultaneously by the generous May sunshine and Sir Ian’s plenteous charm.
One of the most active performers on the Cambridge drama scene during the late 50s, and an early member of the groundbreaking Marlowe Society, he was clearly passionate about performing – especially performing Shakespeare – and was keen to talk about it with a fresh generation. He gave us a lot of handy advice, regaled us with tales of his time at the University, and even made a two pound donation towards paying off our student loans.
The afternoon became even more surreal when Ken Dodd turned up, preparing for his show at the Arts Theatre that evening, and joined with Sir Ian in telling tales of film sets and audiences they have known. Spending an afternoon with one of the country’s most beloved actors, and a comedian who regularly delivers four hour sets in his late-eighties, was an astonishing experience – both a treat and motivation to us all. In the words of Eleanor Mitchell, Pembroke Players President 2016-17, “siocnisoioasnfsinonvonsnfis”.