Macbeth: Kenneth Branagh to make NY Stage Debut
New York Theatre Guide, 19 August 2013
Kenneth Branagh and Alex Kingston will make their New York stage debuts starring in the U.S. premiere of Rob Ashford and Kenneth Branagh's staging of shakespeare's 'Macbeth', which will be performed at Park Avenue Armory's 55,000-square-foot Wade Thompson Drill Hall in June 2014
A co-commission of Park Avenue Armory and Manchester International Festival, the production was originally mounted at the Manchester International Festival in July 2013, and will be re-imagined for the Armory presentation.
Branagh will star as Macbeth alongside Alex Kingston as Lady Macbeth. Additional casting and performance dates will be announced in the coming months.
When Macbeth returns from a victorious battle he is confronted by three witches who predict he will one day be King. The prophecy sows the seeds of ambition and sedition into his heart and with the support of Lady Macbeth he murders King Duncan and usurps his throne, only to learn that guilt and a King's crown are a heavy burden to bear.
The creative team will feature set and costume design by Christopher Oram, lighting by Neil Austin and sound by Christopher Shutt.
Director Rob Ashford said, "Restaging this monumental work for the Armory's soaring drill hall is an inspiring challenge and an incredible opportunity." Director and actor Kenneth Branagh added, "Utilizing the possibilities of the vast open space is a truly exciting prospect. I am delighted that we have the chance to recreate Macbeth in this epic setting." Rebecca Robertson, President and Executive Producer of Park Avenue Armory, said, "The Armory enables artists to realize site-specific works that demand presentation space beyond limitations found in traditional theaters or museums. We are ecstatic to collaborate with Rob Ashford and Kenneth Branagh, combining their incredible vision with our unconventional space and military history to allow audiences to relive this timeless story in a remarkable new way."
Kenneth Branagh has long been lauded as one of the great Shakespearean interpreters. His skills as a writer, director, and actor have garnered international acclaim across the disciplines of stage, film, and television, and he has been nominated in five different categories for an Academy Award. Branagh last performed Shakespeare when he played 'Richard III' at the Sheffield Crucible in 2002. His stage performances as 'Edmund' at The National Theatre and 'Ivanov' for the Donmar played to great acclaim. In 2011, Branagh completed a sell-out run of the hit comedy 'The Painkiller' at the Lyric Theatre in his native Belfast. In 2013 he received a Knighthood for his services to drama and to the community in N. Ireland.
Alex Kingston has won critical acclaim for her numerous television roles including "Dr. Elizabeth Corday" in "ER" and "River Song" in "Doctor Who." A former member of the Royal Shakespeare Company, performing in 'Much Ado About Nothing,' 'King Lear,' and 'Love's Labours Lost' amongst others, Kingston was recently seen on the London stage in the sold out 'Luise Miller' at the Donmar Warehouse. In 2006 she played 'Nurse Ratched' in the West End production of 'One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest,' starring Christian Slater. Recent feature film credits include "Sweetland" opposite Alan Cummings and "Alpha Dog," starring Justin Timberlake.
Rob Ashford has directed and choreographed productions on both sides of the Atlantic, from collaborations with the Donmar Warehouse and National Theatre to major Broadway productions. Ashford has a string of nominations and awards to his name which include: an Olivier Award for 'Anna Christie,' with nominations for 'A Streetcar Named Desire' and 'Parade' (Donmar Warehouse), and a Tony Award for 'Thoroughly Modern Millie,' with nominations for productions including 'Evita' and 'How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.' He also won an Emmy Award for his choreography at the 81st Academy Awards.