13 April 2011 | UK Postage Stamps honour Royal Shakespeare Company

David Tennant as Hamlet, Antony Sher plays Prospero, Chuk Iwuji plays Henry VI, Paul Schofield as Lear, Sara Kestelman plays the fairy queen Titania, Ian McKellen and Francesca Annis play the doomed lovers, Romeo and Juliet on a new set of stamps from Royal Mail.

When Gandalf and Saruman first made it onto a New Zealand postage stamp, I stuck them on my 2001 Christmas cards and mailed them all from Wellington. Not that the wizards were a particularly festive couple.

This year, Romeo and Juliet are happily on the £1.10 stamp for overseas letters and cards, though their scene too lacks the Christmas spirit somewhat.

Juliet, in a self-induced coma is in Romeo's arms. As his own poison kills him, her arm unseen stirs from her drugs. (We pinched this idea from Rudolf Nureyev's ballet version of the play.)

The photograph of Francesca Annis and me was taken onstage by Reg Wilson at the old Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon, and used for the poster of the 1976-77 production, when it transferred to the Aldwych Theatre in London.— Ian McKellen, Wellington, 12 April 2011

RSC Postage Stamp

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