Newly-knighted actor/director Kenneth Branagh is heading back to the stage to make his debut as Macbeth.

The Thor director, who became a Sir last week (ends09Nov12), will play Shakespeare's tragic king as part of next year's (13) Manchester International Festival in England.

Emmy and Tony Award-winner Rob Ashford will direct the production, which marks Branagh's first Shakespearean role since he played Richard Iii in Sheffield, England in 2002.

Branagh has also played Shakespeare's Hamlet onstage and on the big screen and Othello villain Iago and Henry V on film, while also directing movie versions of the Bard's plays Love's Labour's Lost and Much Ado About Nothing, starring in both.

Branagh's 17 performances at the Manchester International Festival will be especially theatrical - they will take place in a deconsecrated church.