Something wicked this way comes…

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The Shakespeare Project was set up earlier this year by Peter Basham in order to bring quality professional Shakespeare plays to the South East of England. The actor and director, who co-founded the theatrical troupe alongside executive producer Laurence Taylor, lives in Tunbridge Wells and has starred in numerous films, including Skyfall and Inception, as well as working for the Royal Shakespeare Company [RSC].

Following a successful fundraising Kickstarter campaign and grants from Arts Council England and the Jerwood Foundation, The Shakespeare Project is now staging its first production, Macbeth, next month, from November 5 to 24.

The ten-strong group of actors participating in the three-week run of shows at Salomons’ Victorian Theatre has just gone into a period of intense rehearsals for this ambitious project, which will see them performing a contemporary, stripped back version of the Bard’s infamous play about unbridled ambition, a relentless thirst for power and its deadly consequences.

Joining Peter, who will be playing the lead role of Macbeth, will be Aamira Challenger (Thane of Angus), Tom Chapman (Thane of Ross), Vangelis Christodoulou (Banquo), Louise Jameson (Queen Duncan), Ffion Jolly (Lady Macbeth), Aaron Sidwell (Macduff), Adam Sopp (Malcolm), Sarah Wadell (Thane of Lennox) and Gerald Bishop (Duncan).

“I’m delighted to have assembled such a fantastic team both on and off the stage,” says Peter. “Macbeth is a part that every actor dreams of playing and I am tremendously excited to start rehearsals with such a talented cast.

“I’d like to thank Arts Council England and the Jerwood Foundation for their generous support, our Kickstarter backers, corporate sponsors, and also the team at Salomons Estate who have been so supportive of the project.”

Local actress Louise Jameson, who has starred in EastEnders, Silent Witness and Doctor Who as well as numerous RSC productions, says she is ‘very excited’ to be included.

“Arguably, this is one of Shakespeare’s finest plays, about to be performed in one of Kent’s most glorious locations with a new and innovative troupe. What’s not to love about this fresh look at a classical masterpiece?”

Aaron Sidwell, who has been cast as Macduff and is also known from EastEnders, is equally happy to be involved with The Shakespeare Project’s inaugural performance: “I am over the moon to have the opportunity to join this phenomenal new theatre company. Having been educated in Tunbridge Wells, I was lucky enough to attend Yew Tree Theatre school and perform at the Assembly Hall on several occasions, so Tunbridge Wells is truly in my blood.

“I was also recently part of an eight-person cast just like this doing Henry V, and it made it so much more epic and dramatic for having the fewer numbers – people are in for one hell of a treat!”

The Shakespeare Project’s version of Macbeth will be directed by Matilda The Musical’s Joseph Pitcher, who says what excites him about bringing Macbeth to life at Salomons is how ‘aligned’ the venue and the story feel.

“The theatre is a majestic Victorian hall with all the grandeur you would expect from that period,” says the Old Vic Bristol-trained director. “But the moment you set foot in the space you know somehow that intrigue and drama are
in its bones – almost like there are secrets
hidden in every nook and cranny.”

Also on board are Mike Robertson, an Olivier Award-winning lighting director, and sound director Simon Arrowsmith, who will be putting the venue’s original Welte organ to good use in order to create a production with a really unique atmosphere.

“Macbeth is a gripping psychological thriller filled with conspiracy, paranoia, betrayal and manipulation, and – although the plot will be familiar to many – we are aiming to surprise the audience at every turn,” promises director Joseph.


Tickets to Macbeth, which is on at Salomons Estate from November 5-24, are on sale now from

Facebook: @TheShakespeareprojectUK
Twitter: @TheShakespeare8

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