by Isobel Fox, 1996
At the age of 78, Kenneth McClellan refuses
to let a "mere little thing like age" hold him back. He
is playing the title role in a three-week run of Shakespeare's King
Lear at the Courtyard Theatre in
York Way, King's Cross.
"I have wanted to play Lear all my life", said Kenneth,
who has been acting since the age of 15. "Acting has
never been hard work for me - I could play Lear 12
times a week and not turn a hair."
It would certainly seem that acting has been Kenneth's long-term
love affair. The only break he has had from his 63-year
career was a spell in the army during World War II, and a road
accident in Clapham several years ago, which left one of his
legs broken in several places.
"That was such a frustrating period. The only thing
I know is acting. I'm useless at anything else", he
explained. "At the age of 12, Shakespeare took over
my life and I knew I was going to dedicate the rest of my career
to him. Acting his works has been my vocation, and I am
determined to carry on with it - I couldn't think of anything
Kenneth held true to his boyhood promise. Playing his first
Shakespearian role, Romeo, at the age
of 20, he has since played 68 other parts and written a book entitled
Whatever Happened to Shakespeare. "The book was published
seven years ago. It's about getting back to Shakespeare's
traditional roots, without modern dress and gimmicks. "It
was something I needed to get out of my system."