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Mendes Confirms Bridge Dates & Cast, No Duff

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Full casting and transatlantic dates have now been announced for Sam Mendes’ 2010 productions of Shakespeare’s As You Like and The Tempest, led by Stephen Dillane, which form the second season in his three-year Bridge Project (See News, 7 Aug 2009).

The productions, which are presented in rep, will open at New York’s Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM), running from 12 January to 13 March 2010, and will conclude at London’s Old Vic – where tickets go on sale at the end of this month – for a season from 12 June to 21 August 2010. Interim international dates are still to be announced.

Dillane plays sorcerer Prospero in The Tempest and the world-weary Jacques in As You Like It. He’s joined in the cross-cast, Anglo-American company by Britons Juliet Rylance (Miranda in The Tempest, Rosalind in As You Like It), and David Tennant’s Hamlet understudy-turned-leading man Edward Bennett (Ferdinand/Oliver) and Americans Christian Camargo (Ariel/Orlando), Ron Cephas Jones (Caliban/Charles the Wrestler), Thomas Sadoski (Stephano/Touchstone) and Michelle Beck (Ceres/Celia).

The company – which will no longer include, as previously reported, Briton Anne-Marie Duff, who has had to withdraw for personal reasons – also comprises: Ashlie Atkinson, Jenni Barber, Alvin Epstein, Jonathan Fried, Richard Hansell, Aaron Krohn, Anthony O'Donnell, Michael Thomas and Ross Waiton

Stephen Dillane was originally meant to head productions of The Tempest and Hamlet for the what was meant to be the inaugural Bridge Project season in 2008. His withdrawal, for family reasons, caused a year’s postponement of the project launch (See News, 20 Jul 2007). Commenting on the 2010 offerings, Sam Mendes recalled: “Stephen Dillane and I began a conversation about his playing Prospero in The Tempest when I first conceived the Bridge Project back in 2007, and I’m delighted to be finally bringing those plans to fruition. I have followed, admired and hoped to collaborate with so many of the actors joining this year, adding to my excitement about forming the Bridge Project’s second company, and building on the wonderful experience of our first year.

The director continued: “ The Bridge Project is a major commitment for actors. It unfurls across nine months with two plays performed across major seasons in New York and London, interspersed with an international touring schedule that takes in Asia and many of Europe’s finest cultural festivals. The first Bridge company was made extraordinarily welcome in the countries we’ve visited and I’m hugely looking forward to making a second such journey.”

Old Vic artistic director Kevin Spacey commented: “I could never have hoped for a richer and more challenging theatrical event as the Bridge Project: a glorious cast that brought to life my dream, with Sam Mendes and BAM, of a transatlantic company with international scope. I was delighted to welcome The Cherry Orchard and The Winter’s Tale this season and am so looking forward to year two with a new British/American company for The Tempest and As You Like It.”

The Cherry Orchard and The Winter’s Tale - with a company led by Simon Russell Beale, Sinead Cusack, Rebecca Hall and Hollywood star Ethan Hawke – completed the first year of the Bridge Project this past summer at the Old Vic. The Project continues until 2011, with each year a single company of leading British and American actors 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.


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