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Moon for the Misbegotten: Ian McKellen


Off, off, damned coat!

Apparently, culture czars in Singapore have objected to Sir Ian McKelllen’s nudity in the storm scene during the RSC production of King Lear. McKellen has thus agreed not to drop trou during Singapore performances. (Had he insisted, officials would have banned any one under 18, including hundreds of schoolchildren with advance tickets, from attending.) Since the ’60s, stage nakedness has become almost a commonplace, at least in this town. Is it indeed inappropriate (as opposed to merely embarrassing) for 18-and-unders to see a unclad bottom or are the Singaporeans being unnecessarily skittish? Is the 18-under rule really that different from an R rating at the cinema (a delineation few object to)? Should such a decision be left up to parents? Here’s Lyn Gardner in the Guardian:

Anyone touring a production abroad, particularly to Asia or the Middle East, will obviously be aware of local sensibilities. To cut the offending action seems the most sensible option, and it would seem absurd to deny the children the opportunity to see the production in all its glory because of a tiny section when McKellen can be seen in all his. But if the divestment can be cut so easily, perhaps it’s not really integral to the production and maybe shouldn’t be there at all. More importantly – whichever way you look at – it is a form of censorship.


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