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Almeida sets slate for millennium

'Celebration' follows 'Bash' next year

LONDON — The British premiere of the Off Broadway sellout “Bash” and the world preem of a new play from Harold Pinter are among the Almeida Theater’s new offerings.

But the lion’s share of attention may well fall on an Almeida project happening away from the north London 300-seater, with firmed-up plans for two Shakespeare plays — “Richard II” and “Coriolanus” — to run in repertory, both directed by Kent and starring Ralph Fiennes.

“Richard II” will open April 12, 2000, in the now-derelict Gainsborough Film Studios in the increasingly trendy Shoreditch area of London. Co-starring Barbara Jefford as Volumnia, “Coriolanus” comes in June 1 and then plays in repertory through July 22.

Back at the Almeida’s Islington base, “Bash” will open Feb. 2 under the direction of its original New York stager, Joe Mantello, here making his British directing debut.

Pinter’s “Celebration” will follow “Bash” into the theater as the 29th play from the seminal English dramatist, who turns 70 next fall. The 50-minute piece is due to open March 22 on a double bill with the same writer’s rarely seen early play, “The Room.”

Next up is Richard Eyre’s production of his own adaptation of Jean-Paul Sartre’s “Les Mains Sales” (“Dirty Hands”) under the new title “The Novice.”

Director Michael Blakemore, soon to open “Kiss Me Kate” on Broadway, makes his Almeida directing debut next summer with the British preem of Arthur Miller’s “Mr. Peters’ Connections.” Peter J. Davison — Blakemore’s colleague on the West End play “Copenhagen” — will design.

Other ventures include “Our Father,” a new play by Edna O’Brien, which follows “The Jew of Malta” into the playhouse this fall. Next spring will see a commercial run under the Almeida banner of Nicholas Wright’s “Cressida,” directed by Nicholas Hytner, designed by Bob Crowley, and starring Michael Gambon.