Eccleston Makes Bard Debut in Yorkshire HamletDate: 3 May 2002
British screen actor Christopher Eccleston (pictured) will take on his first professional Shakespeare on stage this autumn, playing the title role in a new West Yorkshire Playhouse production of Hamlet, which will have a limited run at the Leeds-based theatre from 25 October to 30 November 2002.
Born in Salford in 1964, Eccleston has made his name with his many gritty roles on film and television, which have included David in Shallow Grave, the title role in Jude, the Duke of Norfolk in Elizabeth and, on the small screen, Sergeant Bilborough in Cracker and Nicky in Our Friends in the North.
Amongst Eccleston's other recent screen credits are 24 Hour Party People, Gone in Sixty Seconds, The Others, Hillsborough, Clocking Off, Hearts and Minds and Linda Green.
Eccleston made his professional debut at the age of 25 in a production of A Streetcar Named Desire at the Bristol Old Vic and was last seen on stage two years ago in the West End revival of Strindberg's Miss Julie. He will now follow in the footsteps of acclaimed contemporaries such as Samuel West, Simon Russell Beale and Paul Rhys in tackling Hamlet, Shakespeare's classic tragedy of corruption, madness, betrayal and murder.
Though Eccleston has previously appeared in a 2001 television adaptation of Othello, this Hamlet, directed by WYP associate Ian Brown, will be his first Shakespearean stage appearance. Further casting details for Hamlet have not been confirmed, and public booking has not yet opened.
In a recent Whatsonstage.com Big Debate poll, in which more than 1200 theatregoers voted, the West Yorkshire Playhouse was named the UK's best regional producing theatre, receiving 39% of the overall vote from a shortlist of six venues.
- by Terri Paddock