The postponed collaboration between BAM (Joseph V. Melillo), the Old Vic (Kevin Spacey) and Neal Street Productions (Sam Mendes) is back on track. Originally Mendes was supposed to work on Hamlet & The Tempest with actor Stephen Dillane in 2007, but, due to illness in Dillane’s family, the project was delayed.
The Bridge Project will now begin in the autumn of 2008 with rehearsals for Winter’s Tale and The Cherry Orchard. It was announced that Simon Russell Beale will play Leontes and Lopakhin, and that Sinead Cusack and Rebecca Hall will join the ‘Anglo/American’ company. The plays will open in January 2009 in Brooklyn, with several international stops along the way, until settling in at the Old Vic during the summer of 2009.
Caro Newling, Mendes’s partner, insists that the creative team and acting company will truly be transatlantic. “Half-American and half-English.” She also promised that the roles will be performed by actors with proper stage chops.
The model for the Bridge Project was Mendes's final season as the artistic director of the Donmar, where directed Twelfth Night and Uncle Vanya, which were also presented at BAM.
The name 'Bridge’ came about when Newling was walking across Waterloo Bridge one night and had a eureka moment. "Brooklyn Bridge, Waterloo Bridge and bridging the Atlantic ... oh, you get it.”