Is This a Branagh I See Before Me? Sir Kenneth to Make New York Stage Debut in Macbeth

Excerpted from The Independent, 20 August 2013
By Matilda Battersby

Last month Sir Kenneth Branagh added fuel to the curse rumours around Shakespeare’s 'Macbeth' when he reportedly injured another actor during an onstage fight. But Sir Kenneth remains seemingly undeterred by the darkness of the “Scottish play” and is set to make his New York stage debut as the power-hungry Thane next summer.

The 'Wallander' star will bring the acclaimed 'Macbeth' from this year's Manchester International Festival, which he co-directed with Rob Ashford, to America next June.

It will be staged in a restored army base, Wade Thompson Drill Hall, which spans 55,000 square feet.

The production, which marked Sir Kenneth's return to Shakespeare after over a decade, was originally staged in a deconsecrated church in Manchester.

In July a cast member had to be taken to hospital after he was genuinely wounded in the dramatic opening scenes, which involve the use of real, clashing swords to depict a full-blooded battle.

Reports from the audience at the time said that the injured actor was “fighting” with Sir Kenneth, but organisers said the chaotic nature of the scene meant they could not confirm whether or not this was the case.

Alex Kingston will also make her New York stage debut as she reprises the role of Lady Macbeth next June.

Sir Kenneth expressed his excitement at the “epic” setting of the Park Avenue Armory. He said: "Utilising 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."

Alex Poots, who is artistic director at the Manchester Festival and holds the same role at the Armory, said: "We are thrilled that Kenneth Branagh will be coming to the Armory to recreate this iconic role following his performance in Manchester this summer.

"And I am particularly excited that this production will mark his New York stage debut."

Sir Kenneth is known for his film adaptations of Shakespeare plays, including 2000’s 'Love’s Labours Lost', 1996 film 'Hamlet', and 'Much Ado About Nothing' (1993).

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