Stephen Dillane, who, for personal reasons had to withdraw from what was meant to be the inaugural season of Sam Mendes’ Bridge Project last year (See News, 20 Jul 2007), will return to head the 2010 Bridge coupling of two Shakespeare plays: The Tempest and As You Like it.

Dillane’s withdrawal from Mendes’ planned 2008 stagings of The Tempest and Hamlet caused the Bridge Project to be postponed by a year. Though Hamlet remains off the cards, at least for now, the actor will now have the chance to tackle the role of sorcerer Prospero in The Tempest, and will also play the world-weary Jacques in As You Like It.

According to the Daily Mail, Dillane will be joined in the new cross-cast Anglo-American Bridge Project company by Anne Marie-Duff (as Ariel in The Tempest and Rosalind in As You Like It), Juliet Rylance (Miranda in The Tempest, Celia in As You Like It) and Christian Camargo (Stephano in The Tempest and Orlando in As You Like It). The productions are due to open at New York’s Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) in the new year, As You Like It in January followed by The Tempest in February, before touring internationally and concluding next summer at London’s Old Vic, where this year’s Bridge Project productions of The Cherry Orchard and The Winter’s Tale are currently running in rep.

During Mendes' tenure as artistic director of the Donmar Warehouse, Dillane starred in the 1999 revival of Tom Stoppard’s The Real Thing (directed by David Leveaux), which transferred to the West End and on to Broadway, where Dillane won a Best Actor Tony for his performance. His many other stage credits include Drunk Enough to Say I Love You?, The Coast of Utopia, Uncle Vanya, Hamlet and his solo Macbeth.

Anne-Marie Duff won the Critics’ Circle Award for Best Actress for her last stage appearance in Saint Joan at the National in 2007. Though her other theatre credits include Days of Wine and Roses, The Daughter in Law and Collected Stories, she’s now best known for her screen credits including TV’s The Virgin Queen and Shameless.

As part of the three-year Bridge Project, which runs until 2011, each year a single company of leading British and American actors is assembled to perform a double bill of classic works at BAM and the Old Vic, as well as at least one other theatre internationally. Old Vic artistic director Kevin Spacey is expected to appear in the final season’s double bill, though no programming details have yet been announced. The 2010 season was previously expected to feature The Tempest paired with Chekhov’s Three Sisters.