Drawing: Ian McDiarmid in A Life of Galileo

Ian McDiarmid

Scottish actor Ian McDiarmid’s resumé of rich classical stage roles and critical accolades was elevated into popular culture when he appeared as the Emperor in 1983s Star Wars, Return of the Jedi, and subsequently Senator Palpatine / Darth Sidious in the prequel trilogy.

Ian is currently back on stage in A Life of Galileo, the translation of Bertoit Brecht’s masterpiece by the Royal Shakespeare Company’s writer-in-residence, Mark Ravenhill. The RSC’s production opened last year at Stratford-Upon-Avon before a national tour.

The year is 1609 and the brilliant Italian astronomer Galileo Galilei used the invention of the telescope to discover the ‘eureka moment’ realising the earth orbits the sun. The play’s central focus however it his conflict with the Catholic Church, who denounced him as a heretic and threat to their religious dogma.

Ian signed my sketch at the Rose Theatre, Kingston last week. A Life of Galileo moves to the Arts Theatre in Cambridge this week until 5 April.