Judi Dench and Ian McKellen Back New Theatre Company For "Invisible" Older Actors | Playbill

News Judi Dench and Ian McKellen Back New Theatre Company For "Invisible" Older Actors Dame Judi Dench and Sir Ian McKellen are among the patrons of the U.K.'s Frontier Theatre Productions, an organization aimed at providing opportunities for experienced, older performers who may be overlooked by casting directors in favor of younger actors.

Frontier was founded by 87-year old James Roose-Evans, who helped establish the Hampstead Theatre Club in London in 1959. "There is a huge bank of actors in their 60s, 70s and into their 80s who become invisible, particularly actresses," artistic director Roose-Evans told the Independent.

"Their talent is being wasted. This set me thinking: ‘What can I do?"

The company also has the backing of writer/director Mike Leigh as well as celebrated actors Ray Cooney, Vanessa Redgrave and Juliet Stevenson. Roose-Evans told the Independent that while these high-profile patrons have helped Frontier establish itself, it's unlikely that they will perform in upcoming productions.

"Otherwise we’re falling back into the star system," he said. "People like Judy and Ian are hardly short of work."

"I think the lack of roles for older actors is to do with society’s attitude towards ageing and not realising older people have a lot to give. People are living longer, and more creatively." Roose-Evans is best known for his direction 84, Charing Cross Road, which he also adapted for the stage from of Helene Hanff's novel. The production played the West End as well as Broadway in 1983.

For more information visit FrontierTheatreProductions.

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