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Branagh plays Macbeth for Ashford at Manchester International Festival

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Kenneth Branagh is set to play Macbeth in a production directed by Rob Ashford that will premiere during next summer's Manchester International Festival (MIT), according to the Daily Mail.

Next year's MIT will run from 4 to 21 July 2013, though the precise dates for Macbeth are still to be announced.

Branagh, who has tackled many of Shakespeare's major roles but never the Scottish King, is due to by knighted today (9 November 2012) for services to drama and the community of Northern Ireland.

His recent stage appearances include The Painkiller (Lyric, Belfast) and Ivanov (Donmar West End), while his increasingly impressive film CV includes directing Thor and playing Laurence Olivier in My Week with Marilyn.

According to the Mail's Baz Bamigboye, "The short run suits the actor, because his film career has moved into top gear of late."

American choreographer and director Rob Ashford's recent credits include Shrek the Musical, Finding Neverland and A Streetcar Named Desire and Anna Christie at the Donmar Warehouse.

Whether the production will transfer elsewhere after Manchester remains to be seen. "If the Scottish play strikes gold - or, more appropriately, blood," reports Bamigboye, "perhaps he and Ashford might do a short London season, a tour, or even skip over to Brooklyn or Broadway."


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