On the 8th of May, 1956, theatrical history was made at London's Royal Court Theatre with the opening of John Osborne's Look Back in Anger . The brilliant, frustrated, and emphatically working-class character of Jimmy Porter electrified audiences and expressed the rage of a generation of playwrights still referred to as the "angry young men." The role was created by Kenneth Haigh, whose acid wit and manic energy was subtly countered by Alan Bates in the role of Cliff. Haigh displayed his fire and verbal dexterity in the part to great acclaim for American audiences in October, 1957 at the Lyceum Theatre on Broadway. Launched as a major new star on both continents, Haigh toured the United States in the play which changed the course of modem drama.
Director Michael Kahn invited Haigh to play Antony in Antony and Cleopatra in his production for the American Shakespeare Theatre. Previous commitments prohibited the association, and now Kahn declares "I'm thrilled to be working with him and am grateful he's made time in his schedule to come to The Shakespeare Theatre. His unique temperament and passion are ideally suited to this role and I'm glad to welcome another major international talent to our stage."
Haigh's first appearance on stage was as Cassio in Othello in Drogheda, Eire. Born in Yorkshire, he trained at the Central School of Speech and Dramatic Art. Appearances during the Shakespearean season at London's Open Air Theatre in Regent's Park led to his joining the English Stage Company for their first season at the Royal Court which featured his epoch making performance in Look Back in Anger . Since then, Haigh has had a wide ranging career in the U.K., Canada, and the United States, balancing classical roles with the best in the modem repertoire. He introduced Jerry in Edward Albee's The Zoo Story to London and played the title role in Camus' Caligula on Broadway. Washington audiences will remember his acclaimed portrayal of F. Scott Fitzgerald in Tennessee Williams' Clothes for a Summer Hotel at the Kennedy Center.
For The Royal Shakespeare Company he played Mark Antony in Julius Caesar and, later, Brutus for The American Shakespeare Theatre in Connecticut, where he also played Malvolio in Twelfth Night and Prospero in The Tempest . At Yale Rep, he played Prometheus in Jonathan Miller's production of Robert Lowell's adaptation of Prometheus Bound with Irene Worth, the title role in Enrico IV , and the lead in The Revenger's Tragedy. He has taught Acting Shakespeare at the Yale School of Drama where he is an Honorary Professor and has also taught at Vassar. He will join his co-star Franchelle Stewart Dom to teach acting while he is in residence at The Shakespeare Theatre.