HENRY V (1963)
Written by William Shakespeare
Directed by Robert Chetwyn
Ian McKellen in the role of King Henry
Arts Theatre, Ipswich, Suffolk
5 February 1963 - 23 February 1963
Words from Ian McKellen
We had very few soldiers. So I imagined that the army were in the audience and I knelt down at the front of the stage and whipsered, "Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more / Or close the wall up with our English dead." I was able to get just as much passion into that and bravado and patriotism by whispering as I could by shouting. In fact I think I got more because it felt more real.
This was my second go at Henry V, after a school production in 1957.
Robert Chetwyn, our director, had acted in the recent Birmingham Rep production, with Albert Finney as King Henry – I suspect he filched a few production ideas including addressing the audience as the English troops.