A focus on Shakespeare's Venice and celebrating the centenary of Arthur Miller's birth form the playbill for the Royal Shakespeare Company's 2015 summer main stage season in Stratford-upon-Avon, while the Swan Theatre will feature three contemporary takes on classic plays exploring the concept of the "outsider."
The summer 2015 Royal Shakespeare Theatre season opens with Death of a Salesman, Arthur Miller's 1949 Pulitzer prize-winning play about failed dreams and thwarted ambition. Artistic Director Gregory Doran directs Antony Sher in the role of Willy Loman, the downtrodden salesman of the title. Alex Hassell, who plays Prince Hal alongside Antony Sher's Falstaff in the RSC's current productions of Henry IV Parts I & II, will play Willy's eldest son, Biff.
The repertoire continues with two plays set in Venice: what an RSC press release calls "Shakespeare's uncompromising tragedies," The Merchant of Venice and Othello. The Merchant of Venice will be directed by Polly Findlay in her first Shakespeare production for the RSC. Polly's production of Arden of Faversham at the Swan Theatre was part of this summer's "The Roaring Girls" season. She has directed Protest Song at The Shed at the National Theatre and will direct Treasure Island at the National Theatre at the end of 2014
After more than a decade working in film and television on projects from Star Wars to Holby City, Hugh Quarshie returns to the RSC to play the title role of Othello, which will be directed by Iqbal Khan, whose last production for the RSC was an acclaimed Much Ado About Nothing in 2012, set in India. Quarshie last appeared with the Company in 1996 in Faust and Julius Caesar. Lucian Msamati also returns to play Iago. His most recent theater work includes Little Revolution at the Almeida, The Amen Corner and The Comedy of Errors at the National Theatre, and Clybourne Park which also ran in the West End. His TV work includes Game of Thrones, Ashes to Ashes, and The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency. He last appeared at the RSC in Pericles in 2006.
Reflecting the themes of the Venice season on the main stage will be a repertoire of three plays at the Swan focusing on outsiders.
Christopher Marlowe's The Jew of Malta opens the season, directed by Justin Audibert, in his debut production for the RSC. Audibert last worked as an assistant director with the Company in 2009–2011 and is an artistic associate of HighTide Festival Theatre and associate director of Told by an Idiot. The play picks up the themes of racism and revenge seen in Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice.
Love's Sacrifice by John Ford joins the repertoire, a rarely performed revenge tragedy published in 1633 that echoes Othello as it explores the destructive power of jealousy. It tells the story of the Duke of Pavia, his beautiful wife Bianca, and his best friend Fernando, who falls for Bianca. Racked with jealousy and her own desire for Fernando, the Duke's sister Fiormonda begins to manipulate her brother against his friend with the help of the villainous D'Avalos.
Matthew Dunster makes his RSC debut with the production. His most recent work includes Mametz (National Theatre Wales), The Lightning Child (Shakespeare's Globe), and A Midsummer Night's Dream (Regent's Park Open Air Theatre).
The final production scheduled is Ben Jonson's satirical comedy Volpone, set in Venice. Former RSC Artistic Director Trevor Nunn directs, returning to the Swan Theatre which he created and opened in 1986. During his time running the RSC, he also created The Other Place and directed most of the Shakespeare canon, alongside other diverse productions such as Nicholas Nickleby, Les Miserables, and Peter Pan. He returned to the company in 2007 to direct King Lear and The Seagull. He last collaborated with Henry Goodman on the award-winning productions of The Merchant of Venice and Summerfolk at the National Theatre in 1999.
October 23, 2014