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Article 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 more lovely."

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." 

In order to reinforce this belief, at the age of 71, he set up his own theatre company, Logos, which is responsible for Kenneth's current production of King Lear... "I was so angry with the way the establishment theatres were handling the classics that I felt I should do something about it and treat the public to Shakespeare and other greats in their purest form", he said. 

With two years to go to his 80th birthday, Kenneth, whose performance includes carrying Cordelia off stage in his arms, is still going strong.  "I don't do anything like go to a gym to keep fit, but I am a vegetarian.  I don't smoke and I don't drink that often", he said.  "My life would be so dry without acting so I take care to look after myself.  I want to carry on doing what I'm doing until I die - I couldn't think of a better way to go."

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