The Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) marks the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's death in 2016 with a far-reaching national and international program of productions and collaborations, celebrating the world's most famous playwright and his legacy today. The plans include the company's first major tour to China in February 2016.
In London, RSC will stage "King and Country: Shakespeare's Great Cycle of Kings" plays at the Barbican Theatre in January. All four of Artistic Director Gregory Doran's productions of Richard II, Henry IV Part One and Part Two, and Henry V will play in repertoire for the first time with most of the original casts. The RSC and Barbican Cinemas will also host "RSC Shakespeare on Film" alongside the season, celebrating classic productions from the archives.
All four history plays will then tour to BAM for a run of the repertoire in March and April. The Royal Shakespeare Company in America is presented in collaboration with Ohio State University.
The two Henry IVs and Henry V will also tour China in February, visiting the National Centre for the Performing Arts in Beijing, the Shanghai Grand Theatre, and the Hong Kong Arts Festival. This kicks off a major 10-year cultural exchange collaboration with translations of Chinese classics into English and performance-based translations of Shakespeare's plays into Chinese, starting in the rehearsal room of Henry V. The RSC also collaborates with the British Council on a new education publication for Chinese and UK schools.
A Midsummer Night's Dream: A Play for the Nation is a unique tour every UK nation and region from February to June in collaboration with 13 partner theaters. Amateur companies selected from each of these places will join the RSC core cast to play Bottom and the Mechanicals, and local school children will play Titania's fairy train. The production plays in Stratford-upon-Avon at the start and end of the tour, culminating in June with Midsummer celebrations across the town. The entire project will be captured by the BBC for Inside Out on BBC One.
Additionally, every school in the UK is invited to be part of the RSC's Dream Team 2016 by staging their own production of A Midsummer Night's Dream. The RSC will provide schools with a free one-hour edit of the play, a specially-composed score, and other supporting resources. The Dream Team will culminate in special celebrations in Stratford and across the UK from Midsummer's Day to the end of term.
The RSC is also collaborating with publishers VINTAGE Hogarth Shakespeare on events exploring how Shakespeare continues to be reimagined through RSC productions and Hogarth Shakespeare's new commissions. The program launches with Jeanette Winterson in October 2015 and Howard Jacobson in February 2016, whose books take inspiration from The Winter's Tale and The Merchant of Venice, respectively.
A collaboration between the BBC and the RSC will celebrate Shakespeare's legacy across all the performing arts in a live broadcast on BBC Two from the Royal Shakespeare Theatre on Shakespeare's birthday, Saturday, April 23, hosted by RSC Associate Artist David Tennant.
A brand new, family-friendly, interactive exhibition exploring the history of theater in Stratford and revealing the people and stories behind the productions will be located in the Swan Theatre's front-of-house spaces after restoration of the oldest part of the theater is completed.
Other highlights for the year include The Other Place studio theater in Stratford reopening with a new space for performances and rehearsals, and, for the first time ever, the RSC throws open the doors to its world-renowned costume store for public tours.
Meanwhile, the Royal Shakespeare Theatre will stage a full repertoire of Shakespeare productions, including Antony Sher playing King Lear, alongside plays by Shakespeare's contemporaries in the Swan Theatre and free family events taking place in and around the RSC's theaters throughout the year.
April 23, 2015