Manchester International Festival 2013: A Feast of Drama
Natalie Anglesey talks to festival director Alex Poots

Manchester Evening News, 1 July 2013

There is a different look to this year's much anticipated Manchester International Festival, as director Alex Poots is keen to point out.

“This year I’m proud to say there’s far more drama involved than ever before,” says Alex. “Manchester's the home of such a thriving theatre scene that I’ve been aware for some time of the need to extend the scope of our world-class theatre.

“Times are hard and with that in mind, where possible, we've tried to keep our ticket prices down. In times of recession it seems to me we benefit from even more theatre.”

'Macbeth' stars Kenneth Branagh in the title role in his first Shakespeare performance in over a decade. “Sir Kenneth has a soft spot for Manchester where he appeared in a couple of touring Shakespeare productions at the start of his career. Originally I asked if he’d like to direct,” Alex admits.

“He then confessed that playing Macbeth was a long-held ambition and he’ll also co-direct with Rob Ashford. Former RSC actress Alex Kingston (ER, Doctor Who) plays Lady Macbeth.”

Be warned: it plays straight through without an interval! Although the theatre performances are sold out, tickets are available to see Macbeth via a one-off live big screen relay in the NCP Bridgewater Hall Car Park on July 20 (£8).

Alex sums up: “We know we can’t please all of the people all of the time but hopefully we’ve managed to provide the quality work that is our aim.”

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