Sir Kenneth Branagh on his New York stage debut

Sir Kenneth Branagh (Professor Lockhart) has worn a variety of hats in his career, including acting on stage and in film, as well as writing, and directing. So it is perhaps surprising to learn that he has never acted on stage in New York. This summer, Branagh is to make his New York debut in a staging of Macbeth. While he is co-directing the play, he is also appearing on stage in his first Shakespeare performance in more than a decade. Branagh is joined by Doctor Who actress Alex Kingston.

The play will be staged at Park Avenue Armory, for a three-week period this summer. In a new interview, Branagh has spoken about putting on the play, the setting, and much more.

On the setting he commented,

I used to stay with friends on the Upper East Side, and I walked by the Park Avenue Armory regularly, always thinking, ‘Gosh, it looks like a castle from the outside, like a stronghold.’

So when it was suggested to me, I knew it would be perfect for the idea we always wanted to do — to give people an environmental experience from the word go.

He further says that about the Armory,

You’re already seeing something that takes up a whole city block that is martial and very massive, and it will be containing a play that will be at least those things, as well as being a thriller and a supernatural ghost story and something that deals with primal human motivations in a big, sort of loaded space.

Branagh also talks more about the play itself and his staging decisions:

Here, we go for a very primitive and primal approach to the play. First screen direction: thunder, lightning, and rain — that’s what we start with. We try to keep the play visually in Scotland in a cruel world where he who fights hardest and longest wins, where there is a sort of appetite for power expressed in very clannish kinds of ways. The politics is basic and crude, with so much of it to do with physical martial prowess. In a way, the play is partly about a move in Scotland from a primitive world into new Middle Ages where there’s more hierarchy, titles, and structure.

But the world our Macbeth lives in is a little more dog-eat-dog savage, elemental, where you feel the sense of the travel these characters have to take to go around Scotland. You feel the heat. You feel the weather. You feel the desperation. You feel the savagery of it and where the motivations are very basic. When Macbeth has this brief opportunity to potentially seize power, you feel the nakedness of his ambition.

Read the full interview with Branagh here.

Macbeth will run May 31 – June 22. Tickets and more information are available here. Hurry, though, tickets are bound to sell out very soon!

Are you hoping to get tickets, or are you already planning on going? Let us know!

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