Producer Jamie Hendry has launched a new company that will contemporary Shakespeare productions internationally.
The New English Shakespeare Company will stage its first production, Much Ado About Nothing, at Dubai Opera in September this year, before going on an international tour.
Hendry said he had spent the past few years focusing on musicals through Jamie Hendry Productions, but had wanted to move into producing plays under a separate entity.
“Having toured a lot of our shows around the world, we thought why not do the same with some Shakespeare, but bring them up to date and make them relevant to now, and lively and entertaining,” he said.
Hendry said he wanted to form the company to make Shakespeare’s plays “resonate with today’s audiences”.
He said the shows would not be brought to the UK, which he said was well “catered for” in terms of Shakespeare.
Instead, he is currently focusing on the Middle East, Asia and South East Asia.
“The idea is to take the shows overseas and develop new audiences. A lot of these territories receive the big musical juggernauts but smaller plays don’t often make it to these cities – and so the aim to take these productions to cities that haven’t been exposed to Shakespeare perhaps or drama, with a West End quality, but away from the lights of London,” he said.
Although theatre companies such as Shakespeare’s Globe already tours Shakespeare, Hendry said “competition was no reason not to take some good drama out on the road”.
“There’s an appetite for this. Audiences are being developed in a lot of cities around the world, We are focusing on the Middle East, Asia and South East Asia, and they are all beginning to become accustomed to NT Live and the big musicals. So to be able to provide some drama and something they would not receive otherwise is a fantastic challenge,” he said.
The new company is supported financially by Jamie Hendry Productions, alongside a number of partners around the world.
“I hope we can create a little bit of a circuit to tour these shows around,” he said.
Hendry said another four productions were planned following Much Ado About Nothing, which will be directed by Derek Bond, with design by James Perkins. It will feature a cast of 11 actor-musicians.