Drawing: Sir Ian McKellen as King Lear

Autographed drawing of Sir Ian Mckellen as King Lear at the Chichester Festival Theatre

After a decade, Sir Ian McKellen returned to play KING LEAR at the Chichester Festival Theatre in a sold-out five-week season late last year. Having played the role in Trevor Nunn’s 2007 production for the Royal Shakespeare Company, Sir Ian felt that performing it in vast theatre’s meant he declaimed lines that should have been more softly spoken or even whispered.

The contemporary retelling of Shakespeare’s most unforgiving tragedy in the intimate 280 seat, wrap around Minerva stage gave him that chance and at 78 he is closer to Lear’s age, which helped him achieve his aim: not to act Lear, but to be Lear in what is “probably his last big Shakespeare part,” according to a recent BBC interview.

The critics agreed, after six decades of acting, Sir Ian ‘reigned supreme’. “McKellen is never less than astonishing,” wrote Neil Norman in the Express, “McKellen is in full command of a lifetime’s acting technique,” said Mark Stenton in The Stage and ‘McKellen meticulously explores Lear’s delusions of grandeur,” exclaimed the Metro’s John Nathan.

I left this drawing at the theatre, which Sir Ian signed and dedicated with a bronze sharpie complete with a metallic glow on his insignia.

Drawing: Joseph Fiennes in Ross

Joseph Fiennes in Ross
The play ROSS is Terence Rattigan’s bio-drama about English archaeologist, military genius and diplomat T. E. Lawrence. It is bookended with a framing device when Lawrence was hiding under an assumed name as ‘Aircraftman Ross’ in the Royal Air Force in 1922, before flashing back six years under a malaria-induced fever dream to his involvement as a liaison officer in the Arab Revolt against the Turks where he became known internationally as ‘Lawrence of Arabia’.
It premiered in 1960 at London’s Theatre Royal, Haymarket with Alec Guinness in the title role, who went on to portray Prince Feisal in the Oscar-winning David Lean epic LAWRENCE OF ARABIA, Steven Spielberg’s favourite film and his inspiration to become a filmmaker.
To mark the centenary of the outbreak of the Arabian Revolt, the Chichester Festival Theatre staged a rare revival of ROSS this month, directed by Adrian Noble and featuring Joseph Fiennes, who returned to the stage after seven years to play the British hero, in what many critics called a tour de force, capturing Lawrence’s  troubled spirit. Michael Billington in the Guardian wrote, “Fiennes gives an accomplished performance in an elegantly mounted production.”
I sent this sketch of J.F. as T.E. to him at the theatre for signing and he graciously did so.

Drawing: Clare Holman in The Master And Margarita

Clare Holman
British actress Clare Holman’s prolific career includes both a wide variety of stage and screen appearances, but she is probably best known as the forensic anthologist Dr Laura Hobson in the ITV crime dramas INSPECTOR MORSE and its spin-off LEWIS, spanning twenty years from 1995 to 2015.

On stage Clare was nominated for an Olivier Award for her supporting role as Honey in WHO’S AFRAID OF VIRGINA WOOLF? in 1996 at the Aldwych Theatre in London’s West End. She received unanimous critical acclaim as the passionate heroine in the Faustian tragicomedy THE MASTER AND MARGARITA alongside Samuel West. The production, which premiered in 2004 at the Chichester Festival Theatre is based on Russian writer Mikhail Bulgarkov’s epic novel about the devil making an unscheduled visit to Stalinist Moscow as an expert in black magic. The astute stage adaption by Edward Kemp was directed by Steven Pimlott. Paul Taylor in his Independent review described Clare’s performance as “wonderfully ardent”.

In a recent interview Clare said she receives ‘masses’ of fan mail so I added this drawing to the pile and thankfully it was returned signed and dedicated.

Drawing: Hugh Bonneville in An Enemy of the People

Hugh Bonneville

BAFTA nominee Hugh Bonneville has made a welcome return to the stage in Henrick Ibsen’s AN ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE at the Chichester Festival Theatre this month. He plays the brilliant scientist Dr Stockmann, standing against an entire town when he discovers that their popular local spa is polluted. Written in 1882, the play is a response to the Norwegian playwright’s public outcry against his earlier work GHOSTS, which was considered indecent because of its vague references to syphillis, while challenging the hypocrisy of Victorian morality. In a note to his publisher, Ibsen wasn’t sure if ENEMY was a comedy or a straight drama… or both.

Best known as Robert, Earl of Grantham in the ITV hit series DOWNTON ABBEY, Hugh was part of the ensemble cast that received Emmy, Golden Globe and SAG Award nominations, winning the latter twice. His extensive theatre career includes work with both the National and the Royal Shakespearean Company.

I sent this portrait to Hugh at Chichester and he retuned it, signed, lickety split. AN ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE is directed by Howard Davies and runs until 21 May.