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Tuesday, 31 July, 2001, 16:47 GMT 17:47 UK
Stewart revives Priestley play
Patrick Stewart (Quantum Photography)
Stewart is an award-winning Shakespearian actor
Star Trek actor Patrick Stewart is spearheading a revival of the plays of fellow Yorkshireman J B Priestley.

After his one-man exploration of Shylock in Shakespeare's Alien, Stewart is returning to the West Yorkshire Playhouse at Leeds in Priestley's Johnson over Jordan.

Despite the pleasure, interest and quality of life I was getting from television and film, it really was not making me happy

Patrick Stewart
Stewart will star as a man looking back over his life in the play, which will be directed by Jude Kelly.

Kelly, artistic director at the West Yorkshire Playhouse, previously directed Stewart in Othello at the Shakespeare Theatre in Washington DC.

Risky choice

Johnson Over Jordan found little favour with critics when it was last produced some 30 years ago. Director Kelly admitted the choice of play was a risky one.

"The timing of the seasons was particularly pertinent as Priestley grew up at the time of the Bradford riots a century ago," Kelly said.

Patrick Stewart and Wendy Nuss
Stewart and wife, Star Trek producer Wendy Nuss
Speaking at the play's launch in London, Stewart said: "Despite the pleasure, interest and quality of life I was getting from television and film, it really was not making me happy."

Although the actor is best known for his screen role as Jean-Luc Picard in Star Trek: The Next Generation, he has had a long and successful career in the theatre.

"Leeds is only a few miles away from where I was born and grew up. My love of performing was nurtured there. It was West Riding County Council which gave me a grant to study," Stewart added.

Honorary associate

He began acting in theatre groups at the age of 12 and is an honorary associate of the Royal Shakespeare Company.

Other than Star Trek, his television appearences include BBC productions of I Claudius, Smileys People, and Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy.

He has won a string of awards, including the London Fringe Theatre Best Actor Award 1986 for his portrayal of George in Who's Afraid Of Virginia Woolf.

Johnson over Jordan is running from 28 August to 29 September at the Playhouse.

See also:

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