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Almeida's Kent Brings Japanese Hamlet to Sadler's

By • West End
As previously tipped (See The Goss, 7 Mar 2003), Jonathan Kent will return to London theatre this summer for the first time since stepping down as joint artistic director of the Almeida in July 2002 directing a new production of Hamlet at Sadler's Wells. It opens, for nine performances only, on 29 August 2003 (previews from 28 August).

The all-male production, presented by Thelma Holt, is performed in Japanese with English surtitles. Starring Japan's Nomura Mansai, one of Asia's leading classical actors and practitioners of traditional "kyogen", Kent's Hamlet received critical acclaim when it opened earlier this year at Tokyo's Setagaya Public Theatre.

Hamlet is designed by Paul Brown, whose many Almeida productions with Kent have included last year's King Lear at King's Cross. The new production has lighting by Tim Mitchell and music by Joseph Phibbs.

With Ian McDiarmid, Kent (pictured) took over as joint artistic director of London's Almeida Theatre in 1990. At the time, it was a tiny fringe theatre that acted mainly as a receiving house. Throughout the 1990s, the pair transformed it into a full-fledged producing outfit with an unrivalled reputation and a reach far beyond its permanent home in Islington, north London. Amongst its many honours were no fewer than 45-odd theatre awards, including Olivier and Evening Standard awards for outstanding achievement.

In addition to critical acclaim, the theatre under their reign also regularly attracted stars of stage and screen - including Hollywood actors such as Kevin Spacey, Juliette Binoche and Liam Neeson - for its productions of classic revivals, ground-breaking re-interpretations and world premieres from heavyweights such as David Hare, Nicholas Wright, Edward Albee, Harold Pinter and Neil LaBute.

The directors announced their joint resignation in September 2001, saying that artistically it was "time to go", and succeeded by former RSC associate director Michael Attenborough (See News, 27 Jun 2002). Since his departure, Kent's projects have also included the major Broadway revival of the musical Man of La Mancha.

- by Terri Paddock


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