Kenneth Branagh’s Olivier Award-winning theatre company will join forces with RADA for a co-production of Hamlet, to support a £20m regeneration plan for the theatre-school’s Chenies Street site in London.
The production will feature alumnus Tom Hiddleston in the title role and will run at RADA’s 160-seat Jerwood Vanbrugh Theatre from September 1-23.
The new premises will provide the first on-site accommodation for students plus a new library and enhanced archive, and its listed Drill Hall will become a flexible, 250 seat public theatre, to be named the Richard Attenborough Theatre.
The acting company and creative team are made up from members of the Kenneth Branagh Theatre Company and RADA.
They are Ayesha Antoine (Rosencrantz / Bernarda), Lolita Chakrabarti (Queen Gertrude), Nicholas Farrell (King Claudius), Sean Foley (Polonius / Osric), Tom Hiddleston (Hamlet), Ansu Kabia (King Hamlet / Player King / Gravedigger), Caroline Martin (Horatia), Eleanor de Rohan (Guildastern / Marcella / Priest), Irfan Shamji (Laertes / Player Queen) and Kathryn Wilder (Ophelia).
Edward Kemp, Director of RADA, said: “We’re thrilled that Kenneth Branagh returns to RADA to work with graduates of the Academy in support of our capital campaign.
“At RADA our close links with the industry are a vital part of the training, and we’re committed to maintaining these links in an ever-changing industry.
“This is a wonderful opportunity for actors from our graduating third year, as well as our current technical theatre and stage management students, to work alongside immensely talented professionals – forming a collaboration of artists that brings together a wealth of experience and exuberant young talent.”
Kenneth Branagh said: “I believe Shakespeare and RADA are very good things. This production celebrates both.
“We bring actors, writers, directors and technicians from last year’s KBTC Garrick season, and team them with RADA graduates past and present, together with artists from the larger creative world to explore Shakespeare’s Hamlet.
“The play speaks as loudly as ever to our volatile world and we are proud to have Tom Hiddleston lead an exciting group of actors, as he plays the title role for the first time.
“This work has been in discussion and planning over a period of years. To find its expression at, with, and for RADA, is a privilege.”
Tom Hiddleston said: “Hamlet presents almost limitless possibilities for interpretation. I can’t wait to explore them, with this great cast, at RADA.
“Kenneth Branagh and I have long talked about working on the play together, and now felt like the right time, at the right place.
“To be guided through it by him as a director, an expert and a friend, is our great good fortune. The performing arts exist to bring people together, not to break or keep them apart.
“I hope the funds raised by the production will help RADA continue to provide a wider field of equal opportunity to train actors, stage managers and technical theatre artists, from every background, to a standard of excellence and professionalism. We need to keep the doors open for everyone.”