Earlier this year, the Shakespeare Project announced that they would be tackling the Scottish Play as their inaugural production. Their establishment would mean a new professional Shakespeare company for Kent, and the chance to perform at a unique and beautiful venue; Macbeth will run in the original Victorian theatre at Salomans Estate in Tunbridge Wells. The Shakespeare Project is led by Artistic Director Peter Basham and Executive Producer Laurence Taylor.
“When I approached the folks at Salomons they were really excited with the prospect of this space being utilised for the local community”, Basham explains. “At the Shakespeare Project, our company mission is to be the best professional Shakespeare company in the south east; we want to reach the widest possible audience and leave a lasting legacy of quality classical theatre for the people of Tunbridge Wells and the surrounding areas.”
The production’s director, Joseph Pitcher, continues: “What excites me about bringing Macbeth to life at Salomons is how aligned the venue and the story feel. The theatre is a majestic Victorian hall with all the grandeur you would expect from that period. But the moment you set foot in the space you know somehow that intrigue and drama are in its bones, almost like there are secrets hidden in every nook and cranny. Macbeth is a gripping psychological thriller filled with conspiracy, paranoia, betrayal and manipulation and, although the plot will be familiar to many, we are aiming to surprise the audience at every turn.”
Completing the creative team are Mike Robertson (lighting design), Charlotte Cooke (production design) and Simon Arrowsmith (sound design).
Today the full casting has been confirmed, with AD Peter Basham taking on the role of the murderous Scot. “I’m delighted to have assembled such a fantastic team both on and off the stage!” Basham says. “Macbeth is a part that every actor dreams of playing and I am tremendously excited to start rehearsals with such a talented cast. I’d like to thank Arts Council England and the Jerwood Foundation for their generous support, our Kickstarter backers, corporate sponsors and also the team at Salomons Estate who have been so supportive of the project.” Ffion Jolly will play Lady Macbeth opposite him.
In an interesting move, TV and stage favourite Louise Jameson will play Queen Duncan. “Arguably Shakespeare’s finest play, about to be performed in one of Kent’s most glorious locations, with a new and innovative troupe. What’s not to love about this fresh look at a classical masterpiece? I’m very excited to be included.”
Fresh from starring in Henry V at The Barn Theatre in the spring, Aaron Sidwell will play Macduff. “I am over the moon to have the opportunity to join this phenomenal new theatre company opening in Tunbridge Wells. Having grown up in Maidstone but educated in Goudhurst, Tunbridge Wells ended up becoming my home in my teenage years. I was lucky enough to attend Yew Tree Theatre school and perform at the Assembly Halls on several occasions, so Tunbridge Wells is truly in my blood. Macbeth is a play I have always wanted to be a part of since studying it for GCSE. Its exploration of the lengths a man and woman will go to, to achieve what they need or want, are extraordinary. You need look no further for where the inspiration for Breaking Bad came from! To have this opportunity to perform it professionally is something I’m over the moon about. I was also recently part of an 8 person cast just like this doing Henry V and it made it so much more epic and dramatic for having the fewer numbers – people are in for one hell of a treat!”
Aamira Challenger (Thane of Angus), Tom Chapman (Thane of Ross), Vangelis Christodoulou (Banquo), Adam Sopp (Malcolm), Sarah Waddell (Thane of Lennox) and Gerald Bishop (understudy Duncan) make up the remainder of the company.
Macbeth runs at Salomons Estate (Tunbridge Wells) from 5-24 November 2019. Tickets are available online.