Kenneth Branagh Tipped to Lead London's Old Vic Theatre
Branagh could succeed Kevin Spacey as artistic director when US star steps down from London theatre in 2015

The Guardian, 12 July 2013
By Matt Trueman

Kenneth Branagh is currently plotting his way to the Scottish crown each night as Macbeth at the Manchester festival, but offstage there's speculation that he might have another job in mind: artistic director of the Old Vic.

Kevin Spacey, who has been in the post for nine years, has announced his intention to step down in 2015 and the Daily Mail has identified Branagh as "the most formidable of likely contenders" to succeed him.

The actor, who founded the independent Renaissance Theatre Company in 1987, has made no secret of his "child-like desire" to run a theatre. "I have a pathetic urge at some stage in my life to be able to pull out my wallet and pull out a little card on which it would say Kenneth Branagh, artistic director," he told BBC Radio 4's Front Row two years ago.

While he has been mooted as a potential future candidate for the National Theatre's top job, which will also come clear in 2015, the Old Vic role might appeal on the basis that Spacey has been able to continue working in film and television while leading its programme.

The Old Vic board has appointed consultant Sue Storr, who recently led the Royal Court's recruitment process towards Vicky Featherstone, to oversee proceedings in the hunt for Spacey's successor.

Branagh could face competition from another actor-director: Mark Rylance, who is due to direct his first Old Vic production in the autumn, overseeing a 'Much Ado About Nothing' starring Vanessa Redgrave and James Earl Jones. Like Branagh, Rylance has previous experience of artistic direction, after founding his own company Phoebus' Cart and later spending 10 years at Shakespeare's Globe.

Nicholas Hytner and his executive director Nick Starr have ruled out the possibility of taking over the Old Vic, despite the timing of Spacey's proposed departure coming shortly after the end of their tenure on the South Bank.

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