Want the news as soon as it comes in? Join Ken-Friends, the Kenneth Branagh Mailing List, which has spies in every corner of the globe... ;-). And if you have a bit of news or info yourself, let me know. This includes any "chance" encounters you might have with our Ken (on the street, in a restaurant, outside his home as you're being dragged away by security), but if you're stalking him, I don't wanna know...

Hello 2B or not-2Bers! I have just been looking for the early "News & Notes" of the Compendium, which are not listed in the News & Notes archive... was worried that July to December 1997 never made it onto the "commercial" server (from the Berkeley student webspace where the Compendium enjoyed its earliest gestation, heh heh) but eureka! I have found the file! It includes a couple of entries from January 1998 but I have left them in. (As always, the News & Notes "go backwards" in time.)

I am going to upload it 'as is' in its gorgeously no-frills HTML. The Compendium's version of the Dead Sea scrolls. And an introduction to the tons of fun that Ngoc's news updates always were (waving at you, Ngoc!!). Enjoy it here!.

And here are a few new things:

The best we-might-actually-see-a-photo news is that Kenneth will receive a Special Award at the 2017 Olivier Awards. You can read about it here.

You can watch an overview of Ken's career (with lots of nice 'director' shots) here.

Leslie Odom Jr., a passenger on The Orient Express, replied to a tweet asking "How's filming going?" with:

"So well. Branagh is a prince. Learning a ton and having so much fun."
And in a February issue of Entertainment Weekly, he is quoted thus:
"[Director Kenneth Branagh] runs the set kind of like we're a little theater troupe. I really went from one pinch-me experience to the next."
So he's now an honorary Ken-Friend.

While we're in 'Hamilton' territory, this comes from a Playbill article on a Q & A with the cast:

Who were you most excited to see backstage?
Diggs: MC Hammer
Miranda: Kenneth Branagh
Goldsberry: Michelle Obama
Soo: (in the accent) Julie Andrews
Jackson: President Obama
Onaodowan: Dave Chapelle
Groff: Beyoncé
Odom, Jr.: Well, this is a theatre crowd, so Anna Deavere Smith
Okay, so Leslie Odom Jr. was unfaithful this time, but the Main Man delivered!

I've added a couple of older "casting for 'The Orient Express'" articles: All Aboard. Every Famous Person in Hollywood Will Kill Johnny Depp in 'Murder on the Orient Express' and Penelope Cruz Joins Johnny Depp and Daisy Ridley for Kenneth Branagh's 'Murder On The Orient Express'.

You can also read a lavishly illustrated review of Romeo and Juliet in Shakespeare Magazine here.

And finally, an eagle-eyed Ken-Friend noticed Himself - at 36 seconds in - in the trailer for Mindhorn, a recent film directed by Sean Foley (whom you'll see in the same scene). Not sure we can hope for an international release...

That is all for the moment. There is houskeeping to do (out-of-date sitemap!) and I will try to pull together any random stuff lying on the virtual desk. Let's look forward to a sighting at the Olivier Awards!
(23 March, thanks Lyn, Paula, Jude, Ngoc, Beth)

Greetings, Kenians! Happy 2017! The twentieth anniversary of the Compendium... which makes it quite the online archive.

We now have the hope that current articles which appear online will continue to be available in their original version "forever" (though the internet definition of forever is still unclear, despite the brilliant visionary Brewster Kahle), but you will find many articles on this site which originally only appeared in print or for which the online version has disappeared. I argue with myself about the need to "copy and format" current articles but ultimately always decide to err on the side of caution.

Similarly I wonder about why to do this at all, given search engines and the sheer wealth of information out there. And in the end it is that sheer wealth which seems the best reason. A Google search with kenneth branagh warm springs turns up almost 16,000 hits of the most varied nature. The same search on the Compendium calls up 60 items, primarily articles (plus a few ads that Google slips in with their free site search). You can cut to the chase, so to speak.

Long-winded way of saying the Compendium will continue. Big waves to Ngoc, the original creator of the site, and Cate, Virginia and Douglass, the original patrons!

And so to few bits of news: at the end of 2016 the Ken-Friends once again joined together to celebrate Kenneth's birthday with a donation of $4007 US to the The William & Frances Branagh Memorial Award at the Royal Aacademy of Dramatic Art (RADA). This award was established through the Ken-Friends in 2008 to support RADA students from Northern Ireland.

Since 1998 the Ken-Friends have have donated a grand total of $89,607 US to Kenneth Branagh's selected charities and organisations. You can read more here.

Just a couple of "new" articles: another review of the stage production of The Entertainer and another of the cinema presentation with lots of quotes from Ken.

And, finally for today, news that The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust is bringing back its film festival:

The Shakespeare Film Festival is back in September 2017 with all new events and our short film competition Shakespeare Shorts: Crossing Borders (also known as Filming Shakespeare). We're delighted that our patron Sir Kenneth Branagh will be acting as a judge in this year's competition.

As well as our short film competition we will be screening two well-known films inspired by Shakespeare and offering a variety of workshops in the art of film making and animation in our Film Festival in Stratford-upon-Avon.

“I am pleased to be patron and judge of The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust Shakespeare Film Festival. The works of the world's greatest playwright have featured on the screen in many and varied ways. This new annual celebration of Shakespeare Film is not only a wonderful opportunity to look back at landmark productions, but also to nurture new film making talent and explore fresh ways of translating his work to the screen. I wish it every success.”


Follow the links above to find out more about our Film Festival events, Shakespeare Shorts competition and festival partners.
That's it for today - more to come!
(24 January, Happy 90th to PL! Thanks, Jane)

Ken Fans, one more quick update before this year is out! All the 2015 news has moved to the News Archive, as has the news from the first half of 2016.

Kenneth has been nominated in the category of 'Best Actor in a Play' for his performance in The Entertainer in the WhatsOnStage Awards which "are the only major theatre awards in which you, the audience, are the judges across all categories". Voting is open until 31 January and you can go here to vote (it takes a moment for the complete page to load).

There are a few new articles: a couple related to The Entertainer (here and here) and a couple related to Murder on the Orient Express (here and here). There is also a lovely audio clip from the Evening Standard Awards event in November.

There are also photos from the Evenng Standards Awards and a few from the Olivier Awards in April.

More to come! In the meantime, Happy New Year!
(31 December, thanks Isabel, Jane, Jude)

Hello keen Kenners! The "getting the act together" starts now! The speed at which getting the act together will happen is not clear, but progress will hopefully be steady...

I was privileged to see the wonderful The Entertainer in London. I feel quite a lot of the press did not give it due credit. The play, and the Kenneth Branagh Theatre Company season at the Garrick, ends tomorrow evening, but here is something to give us hope for the future - excerpted from Baz Bamigboye's column in the Daily Mail, 11 November 2016:

Kenneth Branagh and his theatre company have sold more than two-and-a-half million tickets for his inaugural season of plays, which have been performed at London’s Garrick Theatre over the past year.

The curtain on the series comes down tomorrow night, with the final performance of John Osborne’s 'The Entertainer', starring Branagh as Archie Rice.

He has been nominated in the best actor category in the Standard Drama Awards, which are being handed out at the Old Vic on Sunday, for the role. Greta Scacchi, Gawn Grainger, Sophie McShera and Jonah Hauer-King are all on top form in the play as members of Rice’s family.

The season has included 'The Winter’s Tale' (with Judi Dench), 'Harlequinade', 'Red Velvet', 'Romeo And Juliet' and 'The Painkiller'. Branagh told me he intends to return in a couple of years, with a line-up of brand new plays.

A couple of other article excerpts...   Quoted from an article about the "Into Film Festival, the world’s biggest youth film festival - which returns from November 9 to 25 with its diverse programme of free screenings and events for five to 19-year-olds", 19 September 2016:

Actor, Director and Into Film Ambassador, Sir Kenneth Branagh, said: "I'm thrilled to support the Into Film Festival. It's an incredible opportunity for young people to experience the cinema and be immersed in a film or a discussion. The fact that they could watch something that they would not necessarily consider seeing on their own - all for free - is a truly magnificent offer. I hope that young people and teachers take advantage of the Into Film Festival and come away with a head full of new insights, ideas and an invigorated passion for film."     See the photograph
And, from an interview with Helen Mirren at Yahoo.com, 11 October 2016:
Who do you think should play Bond?

Kenneth Branagh would be a fabulous Bond. He never would do it, because he’s too busy doing other stuff, but he’s got the urbane-ness and the intelligence and the wit. And he’s quite hunky.

And Helen has just become an Honorary Ken-Friend. :-)

There are new (for here) articles, mainly on The Entertainer, as well as the good news that Ken is up for an Evening Standard Theatre Award. Here's the list: 'The Entertainer', Garrick Theatre, Review: ‘Branagh Misses the Desperation of Addiction’  -  Excerpt from Review: ‘The Entertainer,’ ‘Unfaithful’ and ‘They Drink It in the Congo’  -  Misplaced Nostalgia For A Past With Little Relevance Now  -  Matt Trueman: We Need a New Branagh to Revitalise the West End  -  BWW Interview: Jonah Hauer-King on Kenneth Branagh and 'The Entertainer'  -  The Kenneth Branagh Theatre Company's 'The Entertainer' Plays Final Weeks at The Garrick and Evening Standard Theatre Awards 2016: The Shortlist.

And finally, if you need to write to Kenneth during the next year, this is the address:
Kenneth Branagh Ltd.
Longcross Film Studios
Chobham Lane
Chertsey, Surrey KT16 0EE

That is it for today. Lots more to come!
(11 November, thanks Jane, Jude, Ngoc)

Greetings! Just two items today, but there will be more in a couple of weeks and then I will slowly catch up! So hopping on board the Orient Express is the order of the day and here are two articles with cast listings: Johnny Depp and Judi Dench Hop Aboard 'Murder on the Orient Express' and ‘Murder on the Orient Express’ Cast: Daisy Ridley, Judi Dench, Michael Peña & More Hop On Board.

That is my thin offering, just so you know I'm not dead and this archive will grow!
(3 October, thanks Toni, Jane)

Dear Kenians, there are MANY reviews of 'The Entertainer' but I am just out of the salt mine and about to board a plane for a short vacation so I am only putting up two, with a pledge that there will be more. I think the Compendium is mainly an archive at this point - we have so many ways to get the latest information - but I hope it is still useful if all the articles and photos and bits and bobs are gathered together (and saved, as some things still do disappear).

So you can read Kenneth Branagh Dances in Olivier's Shoes in 'The Entertainer' – Review and 'The Entertainer', Garrick Theatre, Review: 'Kenneth Branagh Rises to the Occasion'.

Till soon, I hope.
(6 September, thanks Emma)

Hello Ken-fans, back with a few things. The main one, a nice long article in conjunction with the previews of The Entertainer, which began yesterday.

There is also an article giving a lot of background on the play itself here.

Regarding Murder on the Orient Express the latest (well, for the public, and according to The Mirror) is here: Angelina Jolie Pulls Out of 'Murder on the Orient Express' As Charlize Theron Is Rumoured to Replace Her.

And, according to Theatermania.com, here:

Leslie Odom Jr. in Talks to Join Kenneth Branagh in 'Murder on the Orient Express'
Odom is a Tony winner for his performance in Hamilton.

'Hamilton' Tony winner Leslie Odom Jr. is in talks to join Kenneth Branagh in Branagh's remake of the film 'Murder on the Orient Express', according to Variety.

Based on Agatha Christie's novel, the work follows the murder of an American businessman and the multiple suspects aboard the titular train. Branagh will play detective Hercule Poirot. Official word on Odom's involvement in the project is still to be announced.

Along with his Tony, Odom won a 2015 Grammy Award for Best Musical Theater Album as a principal soloist in the 'Hamilton' original cast recording. He previously appeared on Broadway in 'Rent' and 'Leap of Faith. He also had a regular role on the NBC series 'Smash'.

We'll see....

Changing gears - you have a chance to show your appreciation for Kenneth by voting for him online. He has been nominated for a theatre award in the The Hospital Club 100, which is open to a public vote from 22 August to 9 September 2016. The website is thehospitalclub.com/100. You will find the theatre category toward the bottom of the list. It is not necessary to vote in each category to vote for Ken. The submit button is at the top of the page. Let's do our bit!

There is much more but if I start trying to get it formatted this will never go up... so this is today's update. More soon if the gods are on my side. :-)
(28 August, thanks Sandra, Jane, Jude)

Greetings Bran-iacs! I've been puttering away for ages on a few additions - will just throw them up now or there will never be an update!

A replacement has been found for John Hurt - read about Gawn Grainger here. The best bit: early photos of Kenneth re-discovering his tap dancing skills. Read the article and see the photos here!

There was a bit of controversy that touched Ken's name, however indirectly. Here are the articles: Windsor Fringe Declines Director's Application Because She Is Female, followed by Kenneth Branagh Calls on Windsor Fringe to “Re-examine” Discriminatory Recruitment Process and, in a slightly different take, Kenneth Branagh Defends Windsor Fringe Festival In Wake of Sexism Controversy.

Romeo and Juliet is in its last weekand here is another review from about a month ago.

From the unconfirmed rumour desk...Angelina Jolie May Board 'Murder on the Orient Express' For Kenneth Branagh. We shall see....

And finally, an excerpt from a longer interview with Marisa Berenson, Guardian, 24 July 2016:

Marisa Berenson: ‘Being directed by Branagh is an amazing adventure’
As an actor for Kubrick and Visconti and a model feted by Yves Saint Laurent, she charmed the 70s. Now she’s making her Shakespearean debut

As a model in the early 70s, Marisa Berenson was hailed by Yves Saint Laurent as an It girl. In that same decade, she acted in movies directed by Luchino Visconti ('Death in Venice', 1971), Bob Fosse ('Cabaret', 1972) and Stanley Kubrick ('Barry Lyndon', 1975). Now, at 69, she is performing as Lady Capulet in London’s West End.

How did you come to be cast as Lady Capulet in Kenneth Branagh and Rob Ashford’s production of 'Romeo and Juliet'?
I met Rob Ashford in Tangier. I have a house in Marrakech in which I used to stay with my now deceased mother. And I also met Ken in Tangier. Rob asked me to do a reading for a one-night benefit of Tennessee Williams’s 'Suddenly Last Summer' and we became friends.

What is it like being directed by Branagh?
It was such an amazing adventure. Ken runs what is, in its way, an incredible school. I have learned so much, but it has been difficult because I have never done any Shakespeare before, nor very much theatre – four plays in my life. Ken and Rob’s perfectionism is incredible. And from day one, we were off the book.

My daughter and many of her friends wish they had been born into my amazing generation

No space for slackers then?
Acting – as Rob says – is no job for sissies. What I have to do is cry every night, eight times a week and throw myself on the floor. I am either on my knees or dancing. It has been intense: but it is wonderful to be striving, because what you want in life is to surpass yourself.

Do you recognise anything in Lady Capulet that chimes with your own experience as a mother?
Having a child is an emotional journey, but Juliet is not at all similar to my daughter. I talk to my daughter about everything, including her boyfriends. We trust each other.

That's it for today. I will be back ages from now (she says, hoping it's a reverse curse thing....). :-)
(16 August, thanks, Jane, Jude, Lyn)

Hi Kenners, pulling a few things together while I have a moment. Unfortunately there is some disappointing news: John Hurt has had to withdraw from The Entertainer on his doctor's orders. Thankfully he is recovering well from an illness, not struck by something new. The timeline to 20 August is short - we'll see who will take the role. You can read two fairly similar articles about this here and here.

There were a couple of substantial articles about Ken relating to the final series of Wallander: Kenneth Branagh on the End of Masterpiece’s ‘Wallander’ and Why Kenneth Branagh Loves Mysteries, from ‘Wallander’ to ‘Murder on the Orient Express’.

And there were a couple of short articles in the lead-up to the live screening of Romeo and Juliet: one and two. You can watch the trailer for the live screening here and a charming promo featuring a group of teenagers telling the story of Romeo and Juliet in their own words here.

And that is it for today. I still have loads to catch up with, but these are the more recent items. The rest will come... (slowly) !
(10 July, thanks Jane, Jude, Kate)