Royal Shakespeare Company Artistic Director Gregory Doran today announced the company’s winter 2017 season, including the world premiere of Imperium, an epic, two-part page-to-stage adaptation of Robert Harris‘ best-selling novels about Roman politician Cicero, adapted by Wolf Hall‘s Mike Poulton and directed by Doran, and the West End transfer of Helen Edmundson‘s new play Queen Anne, starring Romola Garai and Emma Cunniffe. Doran also revealed plans for RSC Next Generation, a new long-term talent development programme to give up to 100 young people each year from disadvantaged backgrounds the chance to develop a career in the theatre.
Other highlights include:
- Twelfth Night – Christopher Luscombe returns to the RSC to direct Twelfth Night
- A Christmas Carol – world premiere of David Edgar’s new adaptation of Dickens’s classic tale, directed by Rachel Kavanaugh
- Coriolanus – Sope Dirisu takes the title role in this previously announced production, directed by Angus Jackson
- Dido: Queen of Carthage – as previously announced, Kimberley Sykes directs Marlowe’s tale of sacrifice
- The Other Place hosts the Mischief Festival with a showcase of two premieres – including a new play by Oppenheimer’s Tom Morton-Smith – in May, directed by Erica Whyman and Kirsty Housley
- Queen Anne by Helen Edmundson, directed by Natalie Abrahami, transfers to London’s Theatre Royal Haymarket in June for a 13-week season with Romola Garai as the Duchess of Marlborough
- Launch of RSC Next Generation, a new talent development programme offering long-term training in acting, directing and backstage skills for young people from low income families
In the ROYAL SHAKESPEARE THEATRE
Coriolanus, directed by Angus Jackson: 15 September – 14 October 2017 (broadcast live in cinemas 11 October 2017 and selected encore dates)
Twelfth Night, directed by Christopher Luscombe: 2 November 2017 – 24 February 2018 (broadcast live to cinemas 14 February 2018 and selected encore dates)
A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens, a new adaptation by David Edgar, directed by Rachel Kavanaugh: 27 November 2017 – 4 February 2018
In the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, 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. Sope first worked with the RSC in 2012 playing Pericles as part of the RSC’s Open Stages initiative with amateur theatre 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 8-28 October 2017 marking 2000 years since the death of Shakespeare’s favourite poet: ‘The Wondrous Imagination of Ovid the Storyteller’.
Coriolanus is followed by Christopher Luscombe’s production of Shakespeare’s bittersweet comedy of unrequited love, Twelfth Night, designed 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’s much-loved classic story, A Christmas Carol, is paired with Twelfth Night. This is David Edgar’s first Dickens adaptation since the multi-award winning production of Nicholas Nickleby in the 1980s. David’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. Rachel 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
Dido: Queen of Carthage, by Christopher Marlowe, directed by Kimberley Sykes –
15 September – 28 October 2017
Imperium: The Cicero Plays, a new adaptation by Mike Poulton of Robert Harris’ Cicero Trilogy, directed by Gregory Doran
- Part 1: Conspirator 16 November 2017 – 10 February 2018
- Part 2: Dictator 23 November 2017 – 10 February 2018
As previously announced in the Swan Theatre, Christopher Marlowe’s Dido: Queen of Carthage will be directed by Kimberley Sykes. Kimberley, who was last at the RSC as Associate Director on A Midsummer Night’s Dream: A Play for the Nation, 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.
Gregory Doran then directs Imperium, Mike Poulton’s thrilling 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 work with the RSC was his stunning adaptation of Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies. The productions will be designed by Anthony Ward.
In the THE OTHER PLACE
Mischief Festival 24 May – 17 June 2017
The Earthworks, by Tom Morton-Smith, directed by Erica Whyman
Myth, co-written by Matt Hartley and Kirsty Housley, directed by Kirsty Housley
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 24 May until 17 June. 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, co-written by Matt Hartley and Kirsty Housley and directed by Kirsty Housley; and The Earthworks, by Tom Morton-Smith (who wrote the acclaimed 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.
In the WEST END
Queen Anne – 30 June to 30 September 2017 at the Theatre Royal Haymarket
Theatre Royal Haymarket Productions presents the RSC’s 2015 production of Queen Anne, directed by Natalie Abrahami for a 13 week season this summer. Romola Garai will lead a new cast as the Duchess of Marlborough, with Emma Cunniffe returning as Queen Anne, in Helen Edmundson’s gripping play about this little-known monarch torn between friendship and duty. The production plays in London at the same time as the RSC’s previously announced The Tempest at the Barbican Theatre (30 June – 18 August 2017).
RSC NEXT GENERATION – theatre talent of the future
The RSC launches a new talent development training programme to give talented young people from financially disadvantaged backgrounds the chance to explore a career in acting, directing or working backstage.
Developed in collaboration with partner theatres (see Notes to Editors for full list) 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 theatre sector.
Some of the best theatre-makers, actors and directors in the business will give advice, teaching, support and practical experience, under the guidance of the RSC, in three key areas:
- NEXT GENERATION ACT: Up to 24 talented young people aged 13-18 will join RSC Next Generation to hone and develop their skills as actors. The RSC will continue to offer these students support until they are 18 years old, recruiting new members of the Young Company each year.
- NEXT GENERATION DIRECT: This strand, with Intermission Theatre, is for young people over 18 who demonstrate the creative leadership and directing skills needed to take a play from page to stage.
- NEXT GENERATION BACKSTAGE: Each year 40-50 students aged 13-18 will be given a ‘Backstage Pass’ to discover everything that goes on behind the scenes to bring each production to life.
Participants in the programme 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.
RSC Artistic Director Gregory Doran said today:
“We so often return to old stories to make sense of the world around us. 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.
“We are also looking forward to the future, developing new talent with RSC Next Generation. Theatre has been my passion since childhood and it’s there that our imaginations are first sparked. I am so pleased that we are opening up opportunities for a new generation of young talent to explore theatre careers in acting, directing and backstage, and that we are doing this important work in collaboration with our theatre 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.
“Coriolanus will be the last of Shakespeare’s Roman plays in the Royal Shakespeare Theatre and I am delighted that Angus Jackson will direct Sope Dirisu in the title role. Sope is a rising talent and he will make a truly exciting Coriolanus.
“Mike Poulton’s brilliant new adaptation of Robert Harris’ thrilling Cicero trilogy will cover this huge canvas in six plays, across two evenings, and we will match the whole season with a programme of talks and events marking 2000 years since the death of Ovid. Ovid’s stories were Shakespeare’s greatest inspiration and this will be a chance for people to gain a greater appreciation of these wonderful tales.
“Chris Luscombe will be back with us to direct Twelfth Night and we will premiere David Edgar’s wonderfully funny and surprising adaptation of A Christmas Carol. David returns to Dickens following his acclaimed adaptation of Nicholas Nickleby for us in 1980.
“And Natalie Abrahami’s gripping Queen Anne, with Romola Garai as the Duchess of Marlborough, will play in the West End alongside my production of The Tempest at the Barbican, where we will announce more transfers from the Stratford repertoire later this spring. With Matilda The Musical we are performing in London year-round.”
RSC Deputy Artistic Director Erica Whyman said: “Shakespeare was a daring new writer in his time and I’m delighted we are continuing our commitment to seek out radical and urgent stories and new ways to tell them. Both plays in our next Mischief Festival have come out of our R&D programme over the last couple of years. It is great to have Tom Morton-Smith back with a play about love, grief and the meaning of the universe, set the day before the Large Hadron Collider is switched on for the first time. And Kirsty Housley and Matt Hartley have upended a dinner party in a powerful exploration of how we cope with the truth of impending climate crisis.”