Ian McKellen has more on his mind than playing panto dame for Kevin Spacey (See News, 22 Apr 2004). He’s also been playing fundraiser for English Touring Theatre. McKellen, patron of ETT, this month sent out signed, personalised letters beseeching recipients to support this “national treasure” with membership donations ranging from £10 to over £1,000. A highly respected touring outfit, ETT ended its 2003 tenth anniversary year in unexpected financial turmoil, when its coffers were apparently raided by one of its staff (See News, 19 Nov 2003). Because of the drastic shortfall in funds, the company was forced to cancel two tours – Richard Bean’s Honeymoon Suite and a high-profile revival of Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? - but had hoped to resume touring before the end of the year. McKellen’s letter suggests that ETT, under the direction of Stephen Unwin, isn’t out of the woods yet. Money raised via the current campaign will, according to McKellen, “help keep ETT on the road and support a major new production of Shakespeare’s great comedy Twelfth Night which will tour Britain in the autumn of 2004”.