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Last Updated: Thursday, 8 September 2005, 12:43 GMT 13:43 UK
Altman to direct on London stage
Robert Altman
Robert Altman has never directed before on the London stage
Hollywood veteran Robert Altman is to make his London stage directing debut at Kevin Spacey's Old Vic next year.

Altman, 80, will direct one of Arthur Miller's final plays, Resurrection Blues, as part of Spacey's second season at the London playhouse.

Miller was rewriting the play at the time of his death earlier this year.

Spacey, currently in rehearsals for an Old Vic production of Richard II, will return next autumn to star in Eugene O'Neill's A Moon for the Misbegotten.

However, there are no plans for him to act or direct at the theatre between those two plays.

"I don't want to overplay my hand," he said at the season's press launch on Thursday.

"We have to allow the novelty of my being on stage to shift a little bit so it's not on my shoulders entirely."


Spacey said the combination of Altman and Miller was "a double whammy" for the theatre.

Kevin Spacey and Trevor Nunn
Spacey (left) is rehearsing Richard II with director Trevor Nunn
"It's a remarkable, challenging play, and Robert continues to be at the top of his game."

Recruiting the director of MASH and Gosford Park was a major coup for the two-time Oscar-winner, whose first season at the Old Vic was met with harsh criticism from some quarters.

His commitment to the theatre had also been questioned, most recently when he took a leave of absence midway through a revival of The Philadelphia Story in order to make a film in Australia.

However, Spacey said he had "no regrets at all" about his first year in charge at the historic south London venue.

"I walked in expecting to come under criticism," he said.

"But when you're in it for the long haul you're not concerned. It's too early in the game to start looking back."

'Convincing' king

Spacey said he was "having the time of his life" working on Shakespeare's Richard II with director Trevor Nunn - despite having to master an English accent for the lead role.

"I'm doing my level best to be convincing as an English king," he said.

The 46-year-old admitted he was having trouble pronouncing certain words but added: "If it makes sense and feels real, it will sound right."

He also refused to confirm whether he and Nunn would film the show during or after its run.

Between Richard II and Resurrection Blues, Sir Ian McKellen will return as Widow Twankey in the Christmas pantomime Aladdin.

The Old Vic will then host a production of Stravinsky's The Soldier's Tale, performed by a combination of British and Iraqi actors.

After the Miller play, first staged in the US in 2002, there will be another, still-to-be-named production.

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