Coriolanus and Twelfth Night and a new Dickens adaption from the same man who staged the company's landmark Nicholas Nickleby production in the 1980s are the highlights of the Royal Shakespeare Company's (RSC) upcoming winter season. The lineup was recently unveiled along with a new, long-term talent development program called RSC Next Generation to give up to 100 young people each year from disadvantaged backgrounds the chance to develop a career in the theater.
"Theater has been my passion since childhood, and it’s there that our imaginations are first sparked," RSC Artistic Gregory Doran said in a press release. "I am so pleased that we are opening up opportunities for a new generation of young talent to explore theater careers in acting, directing, and backstage, and that we are doing this important work in collaboration with our theater partners and schools across the country. Shakespeare belongs to everyone, and what better legacy from 2016 than to give new voices a chance to shine?"
Developed in collaboration with partner theaters and schools across the country, RSC Next Generation is a response to the fact that young people from low-income backgrounds remain under-represented across the theater sector.
Some of the best theater-makers, actors, and directors will give advice, teach, support, and practical experience, under the guidance of the RSC, in three key areas:
Participants in the program will be drawn from the thousands of young people who attend (or have attended) the RSC’s 500+ Associate and Partner Schools nationwide in communities that are under-represented in the cultural industries.
The theater partners in this program are Blackpool Grand, Marlowe Theatre in Canterbury, Hull Truck Theatre, New Vic Theatre in Stoke on Trent, York Theatre Royal, Newcastle Theatre Royal, Hall for Cornwall, The Alhambra Theatre in Bradford, and Intermission Theatre in London.
For the winter season at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon, Angus Jackson directs Coriolanus as the final Shakespeare production of the Rome season, transporting audiences back to the very beginnings of the Republic. Sope Dirisu takes the title role of the unwilling leader who vows revenge after he is banished from Rome. Dirisu first worked with the RSC in 2012 playing Pericles as part of the RSC’s Open Stages initiative with amateur theater companies, and recently played Mohammed Ali in One Night in Miami at the Donmar Warehouse. Robert Innes Hopkins designs the shared setting for all four Rome plays. The season includes talks and events from October 8–28, 2017, marking 2000 years since the death of Shakespeare’s favorite poet, Ovid.
Coriolanus is followed by Christopher Luscombe’s production of Shakespeare’s bittersweet comedy of unrequited love, Twelfth Night, with production design by Simon Higlett. Christopher’s acclaimed RSC productions of Love’s Labour’s Lost and Much Ado About Nothing (Love’s Labour’s Won), transferred this winter to the Theatre Royal Haymarket, following their runs at Chichester Festival Theatre and Manchester Opera House.
David Edgar’s new adaptation of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol is paired with Twelfth Night. This is David Edgar’s first Dickens adaptation since the multiaward winning production of Nicholas Nickleby. Edgar's rich history with the RSC began with Destiny in 1976 and includes Pentecost and, most recently, Written on the Heart. The production is directed by Rachel Kavanaugh and designed by Stephen Brimson Lewis, with lighting by Tim Mitchell. Kavanaugh was last at the RSC in 2003, when she directed The Merry Wives of Windsor, and she recently directed the award-winning Half a Sixpence in the West End.
In the Swan Theatre, Christopher Marlowe’s Dido: Queen of Carthage will be directed by Kimberley Sykes. She was last at the RSC as associate director on A Midsummer Night’s Dream: A Play for the Nation, which delves into Marlowe’s darkly humorous and unsettling tale of sacrifice to create a world where gods meet man and fate hangs by an unforgiving thread. The production is designed by Ti Green.
Doran then directs Imperium, Mike Poulton’s new stage adaptation of Robert Harris’ best-selling Cicero trilogy. Staged as six plays, presented in two performances, Part I: Conspirator and Part II: Dictator, this epic event traces the triumphs and disasters of Rome’s greatest orator as he defends Rome’s Republic against the predatory attacks of political rivals, discontented aristocrats, and would-be military dictators. Told through the eyes of Cicero’s loyal secretary, Tiro, this is a backstage view of Rome at its most bloody and brutal. Mike Poulton’s most recent works with the RSC were his adaptation of Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies. The productions will be designed by Anthony Ward.
This summer, the RSC’s creative engine room, The Other Place, continues to nurture new voices with another "Mischief Festival" of new work, talks, events, and debates, from May 24–June 17.
The festival includes a double bill of two new plays: Myth, a theatrical experiment set in one wine-fuelled evening as a dinner party descends into chaos, cowritten by Matt Hartley and Kirsty Housley, from an original idea by Kirsty Housley, and directed by Kirsty Housley; and The Earthworks, by Tom Morton-Smith (who wrote Oppenheimer for the RSC), a funny and touching one-act play about a journalist and a scientist who meet on the eve of the activation of the Large Hadron Collider. The Earthworks will be directed by Deputy Artistic Director Erica Whyman.
“We so often return to old stories to make sense of the world around us," Doran said in the release announcing the season. "In a year which has seen more than its share of political intrigue and unease, we complete our exploration of Rome and see how Shakespeare, his contemporaries, and today’s writers seek inspiration in myth and history."
Run dates for the productions are listed in Bard on the Boards.
February 6, 2017