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Oscar-Winning Actor Kevin Spacey Returns to Qatar to Play Shakespeare’s Richard III in Live Performances Directed by Sam Mendes

Nov 16, 2011

Bank of America Merrill Lynch presents


Produced by The Old Vic, BAM and Neal Street

Doha Film Institute Backs Unique Collaboration as World Tour of Theatrical Classic Comes to the Middle East ; Partners with Kevin Spacey Foundation to Organize Acting Workshops in Two Local Schools

Doha, 16 November, 2011 – Oscar-winning actor and Artistic Director of The Old Vic, Kevin Spacey will play the title role in Shakespeare’s Richard III for two performances at Qatar National Convention Centre, as part of an international tour backed by the Doha Film Institute (DFI).

The production, directed by Academy Award-winner Sam Mendes, who worked with Spacey on the 1999 film American Beauty, will be hosted at the Doha venue on December 16 and 17 in association with the Middle East Theatre Academy. Qatar is the only Middle East destination included in the global tour with scheduled performances in Greece, Spain, Hong Kong, Singapore and Istanbul amongst others. The Richard III tour kicked off amid great critical acclaim at The Old Vic on June 29, 2011.

Tickets to the global production go on sale from November 17 and can be purchased online or from the DFI Box Office located at Building 26, Katara Cultural Village.

As part of its commitment to foster arts education and emerging talent, DFI has also partnered with the Kevin Spacey Foundation to offer acting workshops to two local schools as part of its inaugural flagship project Richard’s Rampage, an initiative spanning eleven countries and three continents. The program will offer students an opportunity to participate in a bespoke workshop and enjoy free tickets to the actual performance of Richard III. Selected students get to participate in an exclusive Q and A session with Kevin Spacey and contribute to creating a film that includes young people from around the world.

Mendes directs a formidable cast of British and American actors, including Maureen Anderman as the Duchess of York; Haydn Gwynne as Queen Elizabeth; Chuk Iwuji as Duke of Buckingham; Gemma Jones as Queen Margaret; and Chandler Williams as George, Duke of Clarence.

Sam 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 year three of The Bridge Project. Richard III is a play I love, and a role I think Kevin is born to play. I’m also thrilled that the partnership between our three entities has strengthened and blossomed over the course of this venture, along with a host of invaluable international partnerships that have enabled us to extend the reach of global touring year after year.” Spacey added: “Sam is one of the finest directors I have had the pleasure to work with and to gain this opportunity is beyond my wildest hopes. I love Sam’s perspective on a role, carving and shaping the actor. With such a remarkable character before me I have a feeling this one is going to be a memorable experience. It is also my hope to bring a comprehensive educational programme and opportunities for emerging artists along with our travels, making an argument for the living theatre in all the major cities we will visit throughout 2011. We are delighted that Bank of America Merrill Lynch has come on board for another season as our sponsor and I applaud their continued support of our work.”

The tour is part of The Bridge Project, an initiative that brings together British and American actors in classic theatre productions. Currently in its third year, The Bridge Project is a unique collaboration between London’s Old Vic Theatre, BAM (the Brooklyn Academy of Music) and the independent UK production company Neal Street presented by Bank of America Merrill Lynch. Through DFI, Doha is a co-commissioner city for the Middle East leg of the production. Along with DFI and the city of Doha, co-commissioners of the world tour include Athens and Epidaurus Festival, Centro Niemeyer Spain, Hong Kong Arts Festival, Istanbul Theatre Festival (IKSV) & Istanbul Municipal Theatres, Kay & McLean Productions, Napoli Teatro Festival Italia, SHN-Carole Shorenstein-Hays & Robert Nederlander, and Singapore Repertory Theatre. The production will reach BAM in New York in January, 2012. BAM Executive Producer Joseph V. Melillo said: “The Bridge Project has been a wonderful creative adventure and an unparalleled success; its final installment is a programmatic highlight of BAM’s upcoming 150th anniversary celebration. I am looking forward to welcoming this immensely talented, trans-Atlantic cast assembled by Sam Mendes to perform alongside Kevin Spacey as Richard III at BAM’s historic Harvey Theater in January, and to tracking the company’s progress across the globe as ambassadors for classical theatre on a grand scale.”

Amanda Palmer, Executive Director of DFI, said: “Qatar already has a small but vibrant local theatre scene, and this international production can only add to the appreciation of developing the local and international theatre. We’re also pleased to see Kevin Spacey’s interest in working with local talent through his educational program, which will see him collaborate with young talent from Doha in a series of acting workshops, both in school and on stage”.

Rena DeSisto, Global Arts and Culture executive, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, said: “Our partnership with The Bridge Project has been an important part of our global programme of support for the arts. Each stop on the tour results in thousands of people enjoying fine theatre and sharing a cultural experience with theatregoers throughout the world. The arts are unparalleled in their ability to create shared, moving experiences for people of diverse cultures, and Bank of America remains committed to supporting these opportunities.”

About Doha Film Institute (DFI):

The Doha Film Institute (DFI) is an independent cultural organisation established in 2010 to incorporate Qatar’s film initiatives under one banner. located at Qatar’s new cultural hub, Katara, DFI’s many initiatives include film and television funding for MENA and international films, year-round education programs, film screenings, and the annual Doha Tribeca Film Festival (DTFF).

In addition, DFI has established a number of strategic cultural partnerships with leading local and international organisations including Katara Cultural Village Foundation, Tribeca Enterprises, World Cinema Foundation, Maisha Film Labs and Giffoni Film Festival.
DFI was founded by H.E Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani. Along with Her Excellency, DFI leadership comprises DFI Board Vice-Chair and Festival Board Chair, H.E. Sheikh Mohammed Bin Fahad Al-Thani; DFI Board Member and Festival Board Vice-Chair, H.E. Dr. Hassan Al-Nimah; DFI Board Member, Mr. Mansoor Ibrahim Al-Mahmoud; Festival Board Member, H.E. Sheikh Jabor Bin Yousuf Al Thani; and DFI Executive Director, Amanda Palmer.

About Bank of America Merrill Lynch:

As a company doing business in more than 100 countries, and with nearly 300,000 employees, Bank of America Merrill Lynch helps a broad spectrum of arts programmes thrive, encompassing sponsorships, grants and loans to museums from the company’s own art collection. In 2010 the Bank of America Art Conservation Project was launched; a global initiative which provides grants to non-profit museums throughout the world to facilitate the preservation of artworks with important cultural or historical value for the enjoyment of future generations. 2011 sponsorships include the V&A’s The Cult of Beauty: the Aesthetic Movement 1860 – 1900, The British Museum’s Afghanistan: Crossroads of the Ancient World “”, and Manet, The Man who invented Modern Art at the Musée d’Orsay, Paris. The company is also Global Sponsor of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and Presenting Sponsor of the Bridge Project which sees Kevin Spacey star in the title role of Sam Mendes’ acclaimed Richard III production in cities around the world.

Through the Art in Our Communities programme® Bank of America Merrill Lynch has converted its own art collection into a unique community resource from which museums and non-profit galleries may borrow complete or customised exhibitions at no cost. Since launching the programme in 2009 the company has lent more than 50 exhibitions, free of charge, to museums around the world. Recent loans include The Art books of Henri Matisse; The Wyeth Family: Three Generations of American Art; and Conversations, an exhibition of 80 photographs by some of the genre’s most recognised names.