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Ian McKellen joins global artistic community in support of theatre director Kirill Serebrennikov

Ian McKellen joins global artistic community in support of theatre director Kirill Serebrennikov
Ian McKellen with Kirill Serebrennikov on his visit to Moscow's Gogol Centre last year. Image: Gogol Centre / Facebook

1 September 2017

Ian McKellen has publicly expressed his support for theatre director Kirill Serebrennikov currently under house arrest, in a letter to Moscow’s Gogol Centre.

The world renowned British actor joins American actress Cate Blanchett in voicing his discontent at Serebrennikov’s arrest, as the international art community continues to fight for the theatre director’s freedom.

In his letter, McKellen revealed he was “surprised and scared” when he heard the accusations levelled against Serebrennikov, arguing he doesn’t believe the director would do something to “undermine the success of the Gogol Centre”.

Furthermore, having met Serebrennikov at the Gogol Centre on his visit to Russia last year, McKellen lauded praise on the progressive Moscow theatre, stating: “I consider the works created in it, and the atmosphere that exists within its walls, to be exemplary for any genuine theatre.”

The legendary star of Lord of the Rings called on all those who are able to show their support for the detained theatre director and added that he felt confident that he was voicing “a common opinion of the entire artistic community of the United Kingdom, which looks to Russia for enlightenment and dedication to the artistic world”.

Meanwhile in Moscow, support for the Gogol Centre director has been unrelenting among young directors, actors, producers, playwrights, musicians and critics, who have put together a petition with over 300 signatures calling for Serebrennikov’s immediate release. Elsewhere, the Moscow Art Theatre played a fragment of a play directed by Serebrennikov before the opening of the season, with Oleg Tabakov, the theatre’s director, adding: “I hope that Kirill will put on many more great performances on this stage.”

Serebrennikov remains under house arrest until 19 October, having been accused of embezzling $1.1m of government funds for his theatre company Seventh Studio. While the authorities maintain that his arrest is purely financial, fierce criticisms have been launched against the investigation, with politicians and actors alike labelling it as a politically motivated case against the arts and staunchly defending the director’s innocence.

Former Gogol Centre director Alexei Malobrodsky, also under arrest in connection with the embezzlement charges, released a letter earlier this week from jail warning the artisitic community of an “all-encompassing oprichnina-like cannibalism” that is in danger of emerging in Russia.