Sam Mendes (The Lehman Trilogy) and Jack Thorne (Harry Potter and the Cursed Child) have teamed up on a new project that explores the 1964 Broadway production of Hamlet, which starred Richard Burton as the Danish prince under the direction of John Gielgud. Thorne has penned the project, titled The Motive and the Cue, and Mendes will direct at London’s National Theatre next spring in a co-production with Neal Street Productions.
Casting and dates are to be announced.
Inspired by Richard Sterne’s John Gielgud Directs Richard Burton in Hamlet and William Redfield’s Letters From an Actor, the show will go behind the raw, rehearsal-like staging of the revival to explore the collaboration between Gielgud, himself a respected Shakespearean actor, and Burton. The Motive and the Cue will also dig into some of the production’s cultural context, as Burton’s recent marriage to Elizabeth Taylor prior to the run had contributed to its publicity. The production played 137 performances at Broadway’s Lunt-Fontanne Theatre and received one Tony win out of its two nominations, for Hume Cronyn’s performance as Polonius.
The collaboration between The National and Neal Street follows their work on international hit The Lehman Trilogy, which won five Tony Awards including Best Play at this year’s ceremony. The production will also reunite The Lehman Trilogy’s design team, including set designer Es Devlin, costume designer Katrina Lindsay, and lighting designer Jon Clark. Joining the creative team are sound designer Paul Arditti and composer Benjamin Kwasi Burrell.