Actors including Ian McKellen, Derek Jacobi and Lesley Manville have recorded monologues for an initiative launched by Collins to raise money for Equity’s Benevolent Fund
Actors including Ian McKellen, Derek Jacobi and Lesley Manville have recorded monologues as part of an initiative launched by Michelle Collins to raise money for a fund to support theatreworkers.
The monologues have been filmed as part of a campaign set up by Collins called #FortheLoveofArts, which aims to raise £100,000 for Equity’s Benevolent Fund. The fund supports the union’s membership who are in need, including performers, directors and stage managers, and was recently topped up by £1 million.
However, Collins said the fund was “dwindling really quickly”, as during the pandemic it has been handling more than 250 requests a week from entertainment professionals. She said more money was needed to support people in the industry at this time.
Collins, who had been due to star in a Harold Pinter play as theatres closed, came up with the idea of monologues after lockdown happened.
After contacting Equity to see how she could help, she agreed to fundraise for the fund, and has enlisted actors including McKellen, Jacobi and Manville, alongside Joseph Fiennes, Frances Barber, Elaine Paige, Bertie Carvel, Sue Johnston, Pearl Mackie and more.
Some are performing existing pieces, while others have recorded new monologues, including McKellen, who has worked with writer Tony Grounds on an original piece.
Collins has chosen a monologue written by Chloe Moss, adapted from her own play How Love Is Spelt, in which Collins starred.
Emerging writer Tyler Rigby has also penned a monologue for Danny Miller. Rigby has only just graduated.
“To give someone an opportunity is what this is about," Collins told The Stage. "I do worry about this industry, and the young talent who are not from privileged backgrounds who don’t have people helping them. It worries me they will all leave the business.”
The monologues will be available on the Equity Benevolent Fund YouTube channel, but Collins hopes some will also be shown on television to raise the profile of the project.
“It’s been good to get my teeth into something, as like a lot of people I felt useless and wanted to do something to help people in our industry,” she said.
The content is produced by Debbie Gray and Sam Cornish of Genesius Pictures alongside Collins.
The fundraising page can be found here.