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Mendes May Hold Bridge Project Finale Until 2012

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Theatregoers may have to wait longer than expected for the third and final instalment of Sam Mendes’ transatlantic Bridge Project, which, for the past two years have brought an Anglo-American company performing two classic plays for a summer repertory season at the Old Vic, currently As You Like It and The Tempest.

According to the Evening Standard, the final offerings in the three-year project between Mendes’ Neal Street Productions, New York’s Brooklyn Academy of Music and the Old Vic is now likely to occur in 2012, which, handily, would mean the productions’ London dates would coincide with the Olympics.

The newspaper speculates that the project’s year off is partly down to the supposed strain that travelling with last year’s productions put on Mendes’ marriage to actress Kate Winslet, from whom he’s since separated. His slate for 2011 is also filling up with other commitments, including, as previously tipped, a Simon Russell Beale-led National Theatre production of King Lear and a musical stage adaptation of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory as well as a a new Andrew Davies screen adaptation of George Eliot's Middlemarch.

In previous years, Bridge Project productions have opened in January in New York, running in rep until March, then toured internationally before concluding at the Old Vic for a run from June to August. In the first year, Simon Russell Beale, Sinead Cusack, Rebecca Hall and Hollywood’s Ethan Hawke featured in the company performing The Winter’s Tale and Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard. This year’s two Shakespeares, As You Like It and The Tempest, are led by Stephen Dillane, Juliet Rylance, Ron Cephas Jones and Christian Camargo and continue at the Old Vic until 21 August.

If the final year is changed to 2012, it won’t be the first delay for the Bridge Project. First announced in 2007, it was originally due to commence in 2008 with an inaugural season of The Tempest and Hamlet starring Stephen Dillane, but Dillane’s withdrawal for family reasons meant that the Project was not inaugurated until 2009 with the Russell Beale-led productions.

Programming for the Bridge Project’s final instalment has not yet been announced, but previous rumours have suggested that it may include Chekhov’s Three Sisters and a cast led by Old Vic artistic director Kevin Spacey. Mendes famously directed Spacey in his (Mendes’) 1999 film debut American Beauty, for which they both won Oscars.


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