Shakespeare festival take a bow ... Wow!
The inaugural Shakespeare Festival at Lynn’s threatened St George’s Guildhall has been hailed a huge success.
The festival held over the weekend attracted hundreds of people through the door with Shakespearean superstar Sir Ian McKellen the main attraction.
He played for free to packed houses on Saturday evening and Sunday afternoon and afterwards was virtually mobbed in the foyer as he talked to the audience and signed copies of the brochure to raise more funds for the upkeep of the ancient building in which the Bard himself once performed on stage.
The festival is the brainchid of Clenchwarton actor Andrew Jarvis, who said yesterday: “It was terrific. I did what I wanted it to do and I’m very pleased. We have made quite a bit of money.”
Seminars were held on Shakespeare and his links to Lynn and Mr Jarvis said it was exciting that evidence had been put forward that there was a strong link with Robert Armin, who lived in Lynn High Street and knew Shakespeare.
It may well have been that the Bard rewrote the part of the gravedigger in Hamlet to suit Armin.
“People were absolutely rapt during the discussions,” said Mr Jarvis, “a steward said to me that in 25 years she had never seen an audience so focused. You could hear a pin drop.”
Mr Jarvis paid tribute to Ian McKellen. He said: “It was such a wonderful show and he is such a lovely guy. He was holding out a bucket at the end to raise extra funds and £5 and £10 notes were flying in.”
Mr Jarvis said that a healthy five-figure sum should have been raised from the festival, half of which will go on the fabric of the building and half going towards next year’s festival, in which he hopes to stage a play.
The festival capped a good week for the Guildhall with progress being made towards the submission of a new funding bid to renovate the building.
The future of the complex has been in question since a multi-million pound bid for Heritage Lottery funding was turned down two years ago.
But borough council executive director Chris Bamfield said they are now in a much stronger position and hope to submit a new expression of interest in funding later this year.