Tempest Heralds Almeida Closure for RevampDate: 7 December 2000
A new outing of Shakespeare's last play, The Tempest, marks the final production at the Almeida Theatre's Islington home before it closes for a year for essential repair work. In it, the Almeida's joint artistic directors - Jonathan Kent and Ian McDiarmid - collaborate once again, with Kent directing McDiarmid as Prospero. The production begins previews tonight before opening on 14 December 2000. It continues to 17 February 2001.
The two men have been joint directors of the Almeida since 1990 during which time they have produced more than 70 productions in Islington, north London, as well as presenting work in the West End, on Broadway and on tour nationally and internationally. Their recent collaborations have included Gogol's The Government Inspector, Chekhov's Ivanov and Moliere's The School for Wives and Tartuffe.
Kent's other Almeida productions include All for Love, The Rules of the Game, Medea, The Life of Galileo, Naked, the Hackney Empire Hamlet, Plenty, Phedre and Britannicus at the West End's Albery Theatre, and Richard II and Coriolanus at Gainsborough Studios. He has also directed Le Cid and Mother Courage and Her Children for the National Theatre.
As an actor, McDiarmid has appeared in the Almeida productions of The Jew of Malta, The Doctor's Dilemma, The Government Inspector, Volpone, The School for Wives, Tartuffe, Ivanov and The Cenci. His many films include The Return of the Jedi, Gorky Park, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, The Heart of Darkness, Restoration, Karaoke, Great Expectations, The Phantom Menace and Sleepy Hollow. He has directed for the Almeida Scenes from an Execution, The Rehearsal and Siren Song.
The cast for The Tempest also includes TV's Queer as Folk star Aidan Gillen (Ariel) along with Alan David (Stephano), Ifan Meredith (Ferdinand), Anna Livia Ryan (Miranda), Adrian Scarborough (Trinculo), Roger Swaine (Gonzalo) and John Warnaby (Sebastian). The Tempest is designed by Paul Brown, with lighting by Mark Henderson, music by Jonathan Dove and sound by John A. Leonard.
Essential remedial work must be done on the Islington theatre in order to keep it licensable. As part of the £4m refurbishment to the building, new seats will be added, more lavatories, a larger foyer and bar, and improved office and rehearsal facilities.
Work has already begun - The Tempest is set in the theatre's partially demolished shell. At the end of The Tempest run, the company will relocate to a temporary performance space in a disused coach terminal near King's Cross train station. The first production in the new space is Frank Wedekind's Lulu, starring Anna Friel, which is scheduled to open in March 2001.