Ashford '82 Wins Raves for "Macbeth"

Kenneth Branagh and Rob Ashford '82 rehearse "Macbeth." (From the National Theatre Live website; photo by Johan Persson.)

Kenneth Branagh and Rob Ashford '82 rehearse "Macbeth." (From the National Theatre Live website; photo by Johan Persson.)

Director Rob Ashford, a member of Washington and Lee’s Class of 1982, has just finished a new project across the Atlantic — in Manchester, England, to be exact. For the Manchester International Festival, he co-directed "Macbeth" with none other than Kenneth Branagh, who also played the iconic role.

And it was a production with a twist. Rather than staging it in a theater, Rob and Branagh put the cast through their paces in a deconsecrated church. According to this laudatory review in the New York Times, the floor was dirt and the seats were wooden benches, and the action took place practically in your lap.

Rob's production won rave reviews from British critics as well, and from his leading man. Here’s what Branagh said in a Q&A for the Guardian: "Rob Ashford made the profound difference, as co-director and good friend. He made a lionish contribution and let me concentrate on my performance at all the right times."

Lucky movie-goers in the United Kingdom and Ireland got to watch a live broadcast of the production this past Saturday, July 20. Movie theaters in the U.S. will screen it starting this fall. Keep an eye on the National Theatre Live website for more information on dates and places.

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