Kenneth Branagh's Garrick Productions To Be Shown Live in Cinemas Worldwide
The Winter’s Tale, Romeo and Juliet and The Entertainer will be shown on 1,300 screens, including more than 500 in UK

The Guardian, 12 September 2015
By Mark Brown
Thanks, Renie

Kenneth Branagh’s productions of 'The Winter’s Tale', 'Romeo and Juliet' and 'The Entertainer' are to be broadcast live in cinemas across the world.

'The Winter’s Tale', co-directed by Rob Ashford and Branagh and with a cast that includes Judi Dench as Paulina, will be the first to be broadcast on 26 November.

Branagh, who will play Leontes, said he wanted to ensure the broadcasts stood as a piece of art on their own terms. Ben Caron, who has directed the actor in the BBC TV’s 'Wallander', is also overseeing the cinema broadcast.

Branagh said the idea was to give the broadcast a more filmic quality, to push the boundaries of what is possible in what is still a new hybrid area.

“It is possible to serve both masters well,” he said. “Our prime responsibility has to be to the theatre audience but there are inflections and gradations of the ways in which it can be approached from a visual point of view.”

He said the live cinema experience galvanised actors, recalling his experience playing Macbeth at the Manchester international festival as it was broadcast live to more than 100,000 people. “It definitely sharpens you up and occasionally makes it a little challenging.”

The plays will be seen on more than 1,300 screens worldwide, from Argentina to the US, with more than 500 in the UK.

The cinema screenings were exciting, Branagh said, not just because they allow more people to see the plays but because they brought a shared sense of the event.

“Whether you’re in a cinema in Milton Keynes or Inverness you’re aware that, in Charing Cross Road, Judi Dench is playing Paulina before your very eyes,” he said. “There is a growing development of audiences who really enjoy this cinematic connection to the live experience, it means there is a growing sense of occasion and anticipation.”

Branagh’s company is taking a year-long residence at the Garrick theatre in London.

Dench said: “I am very pleased that so many people will be able to see the 'Winter’s Tale' at the cinemas, especially because I hear the theatre tickets are just about sold out. It will be exciting to work with Ken and Rob’s team to bring the stage production alive on the big screen.”

• The Winter’s Tale plays 17 October 2015 until 16 January 2016 at the Garrick theatre, London.

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