Sir Kenneth Branagh receives Pragnell Shakespeare Birthday Award, announces Garrick season
Sir Kenneth Branagh (Gilderoy Lockhart) has been honored with the prestigious Pragnell Shakespeare Birthday Award at a ceremony that took place on April 25. The ceremony, held at Theatre Gardens in Stratford-upon-Avon, was attended by more than 600 people who gathered to watch Branagh receive his award. Previous recipients of the award include Sir Ian McKellen and Dame Judi Dench, and it is presented for
outstanding achievement in extending the appreciation and enjoyment of the works of William Shakespeare or in the general advancement of Shakespearean knowledge and understanding.
Branagh joined the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1984 and has since appeared in 25 Shakespeare productions (most recently performing in Macbeth), as well as many film adaptions of Shakespeare’s work.
Speaking to the Herald after the event, Branagh said,
This kind of recognition is fantastic, especially when you look at the list of people over the past 25 years who have received this award. It feels very important and very kind that this is a family prize. It is very Stratford-specific. I like that very much. It’s important and lovely.
Stratford is a romantic place to come back to and means a lot to me. It’s a special town.
You can read the full interview with the Herald here.
The award couldn’t be more timely for Branagh, as it was recently announced that he will be helming a year-long season at the Garrick Theatre in London. The season, which marks Branagh’s return to the West End since his acclaimed performance in Ivanov in 2008, will feature the following plays:
- The Painkiller
- Romeo and Juliet (which reunites his Cinderella stars, Richard Madden and Lily James)
- The Entertainer (which Branagh will also star in as Archie Rice)
The season opens with The Winter’s Tale, which runs from November 7, 2015 (previews begin October 17), to January 16. Branagh will be taking on the role of Leontes while fellow thespian Dame Judi Dench will play Paulina. Speaking about the production to WhatsOnStage, Branagh said,
The Winter’s Tale has been on my radar since I was 17 when I saw it for the first time and was enchanted.
Branagh also spoke of his feelings about working with Dame Judi Dench, saying,
It’s such a privilege to be in the room with someone who has the knowledge of the play that she does… and it’s a thrill for me that all our scenes are together.
Will you be venturing to London’s West End for Branagh’s season at the Garrick? Let us know in the comments!