David Tennant returns to the RSC in the title role of Richard II, the first production in a new series of Shakespeare history plays RSC's new artistic director, Gregory Doran, plans to stage over the coming seasons. The schedule for Winter 2013, announced last week by Doran and RSC's new executive director, Catherine Mallyon, also features two world premieres and an exhibit on RSC costumes.
Additionally, Doran has named Erica Whyman to the new position of deputy artistic director with the special responsibility of leading the revitalization of The Other Place in Stratford as an experimental studio and home for new work, as well as forging new artistic collaborations and directing productions. Whyman comes to the RSC after seven years as artistic director and chief executive at Northern Stage. She was recently awarded an OBE in the New Year's Honours list.
Tennant, now also an RSC Board member, will play Richard II in a production directed by Doran at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon. This collaboration between Tennant and Doran follows the hugely successful production of Hamlet in 2008, which was also filmed for BBC television by Illuminations, and they will be joined by Oliver Ford Davies, who also appeared in that production. Richard II will transfer to London's Barbican Theatre in December after its run in Stratford.
"This winter season acts as a prologue to a wider plan, stretching forward over the next five years," Doran said in a press release. " I hope we will work through the entire canon, producing all [Shakespeare's] plays in our new Royal Shakespeare Theatre, but without repeating the titles in that time. The Swan will be dedicated largely to looking at the stable of writers who worked alongside Shakespeare; to the plays which inspired him and which he inspired; and to writing which matches his scale and ambition, providing a deeper context to the genius of our house playwright."
Noting that 2014 is Shakespeare's 450th birthday, and 2016 marks the quatercentenary of his death in 1616, "We will celebrate Shakespeare's life, from birth to grave, over an arc of three years, culminating in a major nationwide event in 2016," Doran said.
Also at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Ella Hickson gives a fresh new perspective on a much-loved JM Barrie children's classic with her new adaptation of Wendy & Peter Pan. Jonathan Munby, who was last at the RSC working with Doran on The Canterbury Tales, will direct; Colin Richmond is the designer. This production continues the RSC's tradition of family shows after last winter's The Mouse and His Child, 2011's The Heart of Robin Hood , and 2010's Matilda the Musical.
A much-anticipated double bill of Hilary Mantel's prize-winning novels, Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies, receives a world premiere in the Swan Theatre in Stratford. The books are adapted for the first time for the stage in two parts by Mike Poulton, commissioned by Playful Productions, and directed by Jeremy Herrin. These two plays paint the portrait of the political rise to power of Thomas Cromwell in the Tudor Court and will play in repertoire from December. Wolf Hall won the Man Booker in 2009, and Bring Up the Bodies won in 2012, making Mantel the first woman ever to have received the award twice. She achieved another first recently, when Bring Up the Bodies also won the Costa Novel Award, the first time the same novel has won both this and the Man Booker award. Jeremy Herrin is an associate director at the Royal Court, and his National Theatre production of James Graham's political play This House is set to transfer to the Olivier Theatre in February this year after a sell-out run in the Cottesloe last year.
In touring news, The Winter's Tale, directed by Lucy Bailey, tours the UK after its current run in the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon, from March 13 to April 20, playing in Milton Keynes, York, Nottingham, Edinburgh, Hull and Stoke-on-Trent. The RSC's Summer Season of Royal Shakespeare Theatre shows—Hamlet (directed by David Farr), As You Like It (directed by Maria Aberg) and All's Well That Ends Well (directed by Nancy Meckler)—will transfer to Newcastle Theatre Royal and play from Oct. 18–Nov. 19. Doran's production of Julius Caesar tours to the United States, playing at BAM in New York April 10–28, and then the Southern Theatre in Columbus, Ohio from May 1–5, presented in collaboration with Ohio State University. Matilda the Musical, directed by Matthew Warchus, with book by playwright Dennis Kelly, music and lyrics by Tim Minchin, Australian comedian, musician, and composer, and produced in America by the RSC and The Dodgers, will open on Broadway at the Shubert Theatre, previewing from March 4 and opening on April 11.
From spring 2013 through to spring 2014, the RSC celebrates its extraordinary costume collection In Stitches, an exhibition displayed throughout its Stratford theaters. The free exhibition will reveal highlights from the Company's extensive collection, along with new artistic responses, interactive displays, and opportunities for visitors to try on RSC costumes. It will draw on the company's rich heritage of craftsmanship and demonstrate the specialist skills and imagination of artists, designers, and makers in creating costume for work on stage. It will be an exclusive chance to see rarely displayed costumes, including many worn by some of the RSC's best known actors such as Dame Peggy Ashcroft, Sir Ian McKellen, Juliet Stevenson, Dame Judi Dench, and David Tennant.
February 8, 2013