Our special guest on campus today was Sir Ian McKellen whom his hosts, SRT, brought over. The RSC's on tour in the region and this was an opportunity to get up close and personal with the people in their host country, and our opportunity to interact with a real theatre professional with years of experience under his belt.
His audience were most of our lit and Drama Club kids, all of whom have bought tix to watch King Lear tomorrow night, and Seagull on Sunday afternoon. So this was an opportunity for them to thank us for our enthusiastic support.
There was a lot of excitement among the kids, and LT3 was buzzing right up to the time our guest walked in. The most keyed up must have been Mel, who played hostess to the event. She looked to the furniture arrangements, refreshments, liaison with SRT, and even as she assigned us staff with various duties to carry out (I got to be official PowerPoint slide clicker) we all took terms to calm her down. For the last couple of days as she was arranging this visit, she was a nervous wreck.
Sir Ian was a gracious guest. He thrilled the Drama Club's "Othello" main cast by identifying each one in the audience and addressing them in turn. Very few people can make this combination of literary, theatrical, arts kids quiet for long, but as he spoke, the kids hung onto every word. Whether he shared his personal theatre experiences, his observations of the Hollywood film set, or the real need for the world to seek acceptance for diversity, or his delivery of a 16th Century speech by Sir Thomas Moore, he had the crowd in awe.
Sir Ian's purpose was to promote theatre among the young people, and I hope that what he saw of "Othello" in the pix we showed him showed him that Drama is alive and well in NY! His other message to us was about welcoming the stranger, the foreign-born visitor to our land, which is a highly pertinent one for us to remember. For one thing, we commemorated Racial Harmony Day (not that I think he knew anything about it) today, and for another, it's important to remember that we are an immigrant nation after all, so if anyone needs to be nice to foreigners, it's us!