December 10 2013 Latest news:
Wednesday, October 9, 2013
Veteran North Devon star of stage and screen joined by famous friends to play King Lear and raise money for the Motor Neurone Disease Association.
VETERAN actor Joss Ackland has led an all star cast in two unprecedented charity performances of King Lear.
The 85-year-old, who lives at Clovelly, took on the ‘Everest’ of Shakespearean roles for the first time in play readings at the St James Theatre and the Old Vic in London.
The ground-breaking shows raised an estimated £50,000 for the Motor Neurone Disease Association, a cause close to his heart since his wife Rosemary died from the disease in 2002.
Celebrated director Sir Jonathon Miller took charge of a jaw-dropping cast that included Greta Scacchi, Michael York, Sir Tony Robinson, John Nettles, Tony Britton, Felicity Dean, Honeysuckle Weeks, Shaun Dooley and many more.
Playing Lear is yet another pinnacle to the stage and screen actor’s career – a role he has come close to many times, but something always seemed to crop up and prevent him taking the part.
Both London shows played to packed houses and received long standing ovations, the audience clearly appreciative of the innovative use of a rehearsed on stage reading, something Mr Ackland says has never been done before.
All gave up their time to do the shows, whose idea and drive to see it through came from actress and producer Lisa Paterson, following the loss of her script-writer and theatre director friend Ranald Graham to the disease.
“We hope it will raise peoples’ awareness of the disease and how much more help is needed. It is the worst disease of all,” Mr Ackland told the North Devon Gazette.
“It was also a way of bringing four generations of actors together. The company all said it was the happiest thing they had ever done, because it was a matter of people working together as a team.
“It was just a joy to do something for a cause and to help somebody.”
* CLICK on the picture galleries to the top right of this story to view scenes from the performance at the Old Vic, courtesy of Broadcast3D.tv.