Sir Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart will team up for a new production of Samuel Beckett’s Waiting For Godot, which plays at the Theatre Royal Haymarket from 30 April to 28 June (press night 6 May) following a UK tour.
They are directed by Sean Mathias, who has been named Artistic Director of the Theatre Royal Haymarket Company’s 2009 season, following Jonathan Kent.
One of Beckett’s most famous plays, Waiting For Godot follows two consecutive days in the lives of tramps Vladimir (Stewart) and Estragon (McKellen), who divert themselves by clowning around, joking and arguing, while waiting expectantly and unsuccessfully for the mysterious Godot.
McKellen and Stewart have previously worked together in the X-Men films, in which they played rivals Magneto and Professor X. The pair were also inadvertent rivals at the Laurence Olivier Awards earlier this year, where they were both nominated for Best Actor – McKellen for playing King Lear for the Royal Shakespeare Company at the New London and Stewart for Macbeth at the Gielgud – though the eventual winner was Chiwetel Ejiofor for Othello.
Both actors have enjoyed long and acclaimed careers on stage and screen. McKellen’s hugely varied credits include work for the Royal Shakespeare Company and the National Theatre, a celebrated appearance as Widow Twankey in the Old Vic’s pantomime, a stint on soap Coronation Street and Oscar-nominated roles in the films Gods And Monsters and the Lord Of The Rings trilogy.
Stewart made a highly successful return to the stage after being best known for his years playing Jean-Luc Picard in the Star Trek series. He received acclaim for his portrayal of Prospero in The Tempest and the title role in Macbeth, both directed by Rupert Goold, and as Antony in Antony And Cleopatra. He is currently playing Claudius opposite David Tenant’s Hamlet in Gregory Doran’s RSC production which comes to the Novello in December. Previous stage appearances also include his award-winning one-man production of Dickens’s A Christmas Carol.
Waiting For Godot director Mathias has directed McKellen several times in Uncle Vanya, Dance Of Death and Aladdin. Mathias’s other London stage credits include Ring Round The Moon at the Playhouse earlier this year, Suddenly Last Summer at the Comedy, and several production for the National Theatre.
The Theatre Royal Haymarket Company was established in 2007 by the theatre’s producers Arnold M Crook and Nigel Everett. The company’s first season of work was directed by Jonathan Kent and comprised the productions The Country Wife, The Sea and Marguerite.
Details of Mathias’s subsequent productions in his season as Artistic Director of the company are yet to be announced.