RSC artistic director Gregory Doran announced today his ambition for a new collaborative cross-cast ensemble which reflects the nation, to play three Shakespeare productions in a newly reconfigured Royal Shakespeare Theatre next summer. All three productions will then tour in repertoire for the first time to six regional theatres in 2019.
- As You Like It, directed by Kimberley Sykes
- The Taming of the Shrew, directed by Justin Audibert
- Measure For Measure, directed by Gregory Doran
- Kunene and the King, world premiere of a moving two-hander play by John Kani, in a co-production with Cape Town’s Fugard Theatre, and directed by Janice Honeyman
- The Provoked Wife by John Vanbrugh, directed by Phillip Breen
- Venice Preserved by Thomas Otway, directed by Prasanna Puwanarajah
- The Swan Theatre celebrates 25 years since the ending of apartheid in South Africa, and 250 years of the Shakespeare Industry
RSC artistic director Gregory Doran said today:
“This season reflects the power of storytelling in its most essential form, with the actor at the centre of the work. With Justin Audibert and Kimberley Sykes, I am creating a company which reflects the nation in terms of gender, ethnicity, regionality, and disability – 27 actors who will all appear in two out of the three plays.
“We are also making some exciting changes to the Royal Shakespeare Theatre auditorium specifically for this season by extending the audience further round the stage at the Circle levels than ever before, creating new perspectives on the action, truly exploiting the unique qualities of our thrust stage, showing our work in a completely new way. We will then tour all three shows in repertoire, something that is rarely achieved with large-scale productions.
To mark 25 years since the first democratic elections in South Africa, the RSC is staging the world premiere of a new play by renowned South African actor, John Kani. The actor started to write the play when he was playing Caliban in 2009 opposite Antony Sher as Prospero in The Tempest. The resulting play – Kunene and the King – will be directed by Janice Honeyman, and features both these extraordinary South African actors.
To mark 250 years since David Garrick’s famous Shakespeare Jubilee in 1769, which launched Stratford-upon-Avon as the epicentre of the Shakespeare Industry, there are two plays in which Garrick enjoyed successful roles. Both are Restoration plays, a comedy and a tragedy: The Provoked Wife by John Vanbrugh and Venice Preserved by Thomas Otway.
ROYAL SHAKESPEARE THEATRE:
As You Like It
14 February to 31 August 2019 (press night is 21 February)
Kimberley Sykes directs a fierce, exhilarating version of Shakespeare’s romantic comedy. Stephen Brimson Lewis will design the set with Bretta Gerecke designing both costumes and lighting, in a first for the RSC. Music is composed by Tim Sutton.
The Taming of the Shrew
8 March to 31 August 2019 (press night is19 March 2019)
Director Justin Audibert most recently staged The Box of Delights at Wilton’s Music Hall and is artistic director of the Unicorn Theatre. The set is designed by Stephen Brimson Lewis with costumes designed by Hannah Clark and lighting by Matt Peel. Music is composed by Ruth Chan.
Measure for Measure
28 June to 29 August 2019 (press night is 4 July 2019)
Directed by Gregory Doran, the set and costumes are designed by RSC director of design Stephen Brimson Lewis, with lighting by Simon Spencer. Music is composed by Paul Englishby.
Kunene and the King
21 March to 23 April 2019 (press night is 3 April 2019)
South Africa, 2019. 25 years since the first post-apartheid democratic elections, two men from contrasting walks of life are thrust together to reflect on a quarter century of change.
This is a moving and funny new play by the South African actor, activist and playwright John Kani (The Island, Sizwe Banzi is Dead, Black Panther). Fellow South Africans Janice Honeyman directs and Antony Sher performs opposite Kani in this important world premiere. The play is staged in a Royal Shakespeare Company co-production with The Fugard Theatre in association with Eric Abraham, directed by Janice Honeyman.
The Provoked Wife
2 May to 7 September 2019 (press night is 9 May 2019)
John Vanbrugh’s outspoken Restoration romp that shocked 17th century society tackles the realities and challenges of married life. Director Phillip Breen’s last work for the RSC was Richard Bean’s The Hypocrite.
24 May to 7 September 2019 (press night is 30 May 2019)
Thomas Otway’s Restoration tragedy is a savage political thriller and a love story of breath-taking intensity. Prasanna Puwanarajah directs a fast-paced version of this piece in his RSC directorial debut.
Two initiatives have been launched as part of Shakespeare Nation, the RSC’s long-term commitment to engage with people across the country – one for adults new to theatre, and the other for young people
RSC is launching a new adult participation project, aiming to reach out to communities around the country who would not normally engage with theatre and Shakespeare. The ambition is to reach over 3,000 adults via co-productions, workshops and coach trips to the theatre.
The second initiative is the RSC’s first Shakespeare Ambassadors programme. The aim is to develop the leadership capacity of young people across the country. Recruited from the RSC’s national network of partner schools, from Middlesbrough to Cornwall, 300 young ambassadors aged 7-17 will lead a Shakespeare inspired project in their local communities during the 2018/19 academic year.