Baryshnikov, Dafoe among creatives in the mix
Mikhail Baryshnikov, Willem Dafoe and helmer Robert Wilson are among the creatives joining Kenneth Branagh and Rob Ashford in mounting legit productions at the U.K.’s Manchester Festival, as part of a wide-ranging slate of commissions.Ashford and Branagh were already on tap to co-direct “Macbeth” with Branagh in the title role. Dafoe and Baryshnikov will star in the premiere of Wilson’s production “The Old Woman,” an adaptation of a novella by Russian author Daniil Kharms. Josie Rourke, a.d. of London’s Donmar Warehouse, helms the world preem of “The Machine” by fast-rising U.K. scribe Matt Charman, currently writing a screenplay for Universal/Working Title, Sony Films and Roland Emmerich, as well as two original drama series for the BBC. In 1999 Branagh told Variety he would star in his own movie version of “Macbeth,” but the project never materialized. His Manchester gig will be his first performance in a Shakespearean role since playing Richard III at the Sheffield Crucible in 2002. Founded in 2007, Manchester presents new works in all genres. — David Benedict
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