Sam Mendes’s cross-Atlantic venture The Bridge Project, which links the Brooklyn Academy of Music in New York and the Old Vic in London, will now start a year later than planned after actor Stephen Dillane, due to play the lead roles in the first season’s double bill, pulled out.
Mendes was to direct Dillane in the title role of Hamlet and as Prospero in The Tempest, with both productions to play at BAM and the Old Vic in 2008. A joint statement said: “With great regret and due to personal reasons arising from family illness, Dillane has had to withdraw from the initial cycle of this three-year initiative. The producers of The Bridge Project accept his decision with great sympathy and look forward to the future date when his partnership with Mendes in this venture will be resumed.”
Announced earlier this year, The Bridge Project is a new initiative established by Mendes and producing partner Caro Newling with the aim of producing classical work in an international partnership between BAM and the Old Vic. In each year of this three-year project a double bill of works will be produced by one Anglo-American company of actors, to be performed at both partner venues and at one other international theatre.
The project will now start in 2009 with Mendes directing A Winter’s Tale and The Cherry Orchard, with Simon Russell Beale leading the company in both as Leontes and Lopakhin. The double-bill will play BAM in January 2009 before coming to the Old Vic in summer 2009.
No productions have yet been announced for 2010.