Hollywood actor Kevin Spacey is headed for İstanbul this fall with a five-day run of his newest play, the critically acclaimed “Richard III,” the İstanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (İKSV) announced Thursday.
The play, directed by another well-known name in the movie world, Sam Mendes, will be staged as part of this year’s İstanbul International Theater Festival Oct. 5-9 at the Harbiye Muhsin Ertuğrul Stage.
Having debuted in the play on June 29 to great acclaim at London’s Old Vic Theater in front of an audience that included actor Robert Lindsay, DJ Goldie and singer Gareth Gates, Spacey, who plays the part of Shakespeare’s famous villain with his leg in a metal brace, is accompanied in a star studded cast by Maureen Anderman, Haydn Gwynne, Chuk Iwuji, Gemma Jones and Chandler Williams.
“Richard III” marks the third and final season of the Bridge Project, an initiative at the Old Vic, one of London’s most established theater companies, that brings together British and American actors in classic theatre productions. The production, set in the modern day, reunites Spacey with “American Beauty” director Mendes. The dynamic pair previously worked together in 1999 on the film “American Beauty,” sweeping up at total of five Academy Awards including those for best actor and best director.
Commenting on the final season, Mendes said, “I am absolutely delighted to be working with Kevin again for the first time since ‘American Beauty,’ and I am doubly thrilled that he is leading the third leg of The Bridge Project. ‘Richard III’ is a play I love, and a role I think Kevin is born to play.”
Spacey in turn commented, “Sam is one of the finest directors I have had the pleasure to work with, and to gain the opportunity to work with him on a project again is beyond my wildest hopes. With such a remarkable character before me I have a feeling this one is going to be a memorable experience.”
Among other sparkling praise from the British press, the Independent’s Paul Taylor described the play as “spine-tingling.” “It’s now 12 years since the pair joined forces as actor and director,” he said. “Mendes’s new, eclectically modern-dress production of Richard III demonstrates that it has been worth the wait.”
James Woodall comments in his review for The Arts Desk, an arts website, that “Mendes provides a visually arresting, sonically sharp, sartorially unfussy reading. Richard is surrounded by slick-suited lackeys and spooks. Evocation of Libya-like implosion and militarism is plainly intended.”
Now 52, Spacey revealed in program notes that the physical and emotional demands of the role led him to give up drinking and smoking to help him through the period.
Following the performances in İstanbul in October, the production will head to the Far East with performances in Beijing, Singapore and Sydney, eventually reaching the bright lights of New York in January 2012. Tickets for the performance will become available online at biletix.com and the main İKSV box office in August.