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HENRY V – RSC, London

In London theatre, Plays, Regional theatre, Reviews by Matt MerrittLeave a Comment

Shakespeare has loomed large over London’s theatre scene in 2015, from the fevered anticipation to Benedict Cumberbatch’s performances in (the underwhelming) Hamlet to Kenneth Branagh forming his own company and presenting a series of plays built around a pair of the Bard’s pieces. With such fanfare the RSC’s return to the Barbican with the last of their King and Country cycle (and later the whole cycle in repertory) has almost slipped in under the radar, but the less heralded shows are, in our experience, often the most rewarding…

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INTERVIEW: Alex Hassell on his journey from Hal to Henry V

In Features, Inspiring people, Interviews, London theatre, Plays, Quotes, Regional theatre, Reviews by Jonathan BazLeave a Comment

As the RSC cycle of Shakespeare’s Histories arrives at London’s Barbican Theatre, Alex Hassell appears first as Hal in Henry IV Pts 1 & 2, before maturing into the series’ Henry V. 35 years old and with enviably chiselled features, whilst not yet a household name, Hassell is commanding increasing respect. It was only last month that he achieved a podium finish as a Best Supporting Performance nominee in the 2015 UK Theatre Awards for his portrayal of Biff in the RSC’s acclaimed revival of Death Of A Salesman.

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LOVE FOR LOVE – RSC, Stratford

In Opinion, Plays, Regional theatre, Reviews by Libby PurvesLeave a Comment

There’s a bustle of backstage larking before the curtain, cast dashing around in shirtsleeves, manoeuvring a hamper , getting stuck in ropes and tripping over a life-size model crocodile. So get in your seat early. Especially if you want a random hug from Mr Scandal (Robert Cavanah) or to be picked on to represent Queen Anne with a polystyrene crown from the gift shop plonked on your head (the Queen, it seems, saw Congreve’s play on her 32nd birthday, in 1697).

NEWS: RSC Shares Update on Productions at The Barbican Centre

In by Matt MerrittLeave a Comment

The Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) returns to the Barbican in November with Henry V, followed by a major theatrical event in January 2016 to mark the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death – with performances of all four productions of Gregory Doran’s history plays in repertoire.

The season brings together the previously production of Richard II (premiered in the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon in October 2013) with the recent Henry IV Parts I & II and the new production of Henry V straight from its acclaimed run in Stratford.

Running from 11 November 2015 to 24 January 2016, the repertoire includes the majority of the original cast members. David Tennant reprises the title role of Richard II; Antony Sher and Jasper Britton return as Falstaff and Henry IV respectively in theHenry IV plays and Alex Hassell reprises his role as the young Hal and reaches maturity as King in Henry V.

RSC Shakespeare on Screen
9-31 January 2016
Barbican Cinemas 2 & 3

In January 2016, alongside the work onstage at the Barbican, a special festival of RSC Shakespeare on Screen has been created to complement the King and Country plays.

Curated by John Wyver, RSC Director of Screen Productions, in association with the Barbican, RSC Shakespeare on Screen will uncover highlights from 50 years of Shakespeare in performance. Nine titles have been selected from the huge archive of RSC work captured on stage or reconceived for film and television, and include Trevor Nunn’s iconic 1979 production of Macbeth with Ian McKellen and Judi Dench, originally performed at The Other Place in Stratford-upon-Avon, Peter Hall’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1959) with Charles Laughton as Bottom in a rarely-seen partial recording of Hall’s staging which was filmed on three cameras for American television in the theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon, and Gregory Doran’s production of Hamlet (2009) filmed on location in an abandoned seminary in North London, with David Tennant in the title role. Questions about the RSC’s involvement with film and television and the challenges of translating stage productions to the screen will be discussed with current RSC artistic director Gregory Doran and other guests to be announced.

Talks and Debates

A programme of talks and debates explores Shakespeare’s portrayals of Richard II, Henry IV and Henry V. Guest panellists will include Alex Hassell, Julian Glover and David Tennant amongst others. The talks will be held in the Frobisher Auditorium 1 in the Barbican.

Further information here: www.kingandcountry.org.uk/events/talks/

Education

An Education programme will run alongside the RSC season, exploring Henry V and the King and Country cycles. RSC Education and Barbican Creative Learning teams will also work with experts from the Museum of London on an active workshop on Shakespeare’s Histories. For more information on the RSC Education workshops visit: http://www.kingandcountry.org.uk/productions/henry-v/education/

Barbican Box 2016

From November 2015

RSC associate directors will be supporting the Barbican Box education programme for schools and colleges. The project involves a portable box containing tools and stimuli to encourage young people in their personal and imaginative approach to the arts. Joining the programme, schools also get mentoring, teacher training courses, tickets to the Centre’s performances and opportunities to perform at the Barbican – among other benefits.

First Encounter: The Famous Victories of Henry V
19 November 2015

Following its opening in Stratford-upon-Avon in June 2015, and its tour to school halls and theatre spaces across the country, The Famous Victories of Henry V comes to the Barbican for one performance only. Directed by Owen Horsley and using Shakespeare’s original language, the production condenses the three great plays of Henry IV Parts I & II and Henry V into a 90 minute adventure for 8 – 13 year olds.

Exhibition

This Realm, This England – the RSC’s free exhibition will be on display in the Barbican Mezzanine Foyer from 6 November 2015 – 24 January 2016. The exhibition features a new lighting installation developed by the Royal Shakespeare Company, inspired by Stephen Brimson Lewis’ design for the King and Country cycle of plays.

International King and Country tour

Following the Barbican season, Henry IV Parts I & II and Henry V tour to China and are then re-joined by Richard II in Spring 2016 for an exclusive season in New York, at the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM).

J.P. Morgan is the Global Tour Premier Partner for all four productions, and will be supporting the upcoming tour from London to China and the US.

Live from Stratford-upon-Avon

Henry V will be broadcast ‘Live from Stratford-upon-Avon’ to cinemas in collaboration with Picturehouse Entertainment on 21 October 2015. For details on screenings http://onscreen.rsc.org.uk/

As well as streaming the shows live into cinemas around the world, the RSC also offers another unique opportunity to schools across the UK to experience the Company’s productions for free in classrooms, with a live Q&A following the screening. Henry Vwill be screened in schools on Thursday 19 November 2015.

This hugely popular initiative is made possible through collaboration with Ravensbourne College. Alongside the webcast, the RSC has created an extensive package of online resources for use by teachers and students in the classroom, both in the lead up to the broadcast and for use as follow up materials afterwards.

The £5 ticket scheme for 16-25 year olds gives access to £5 tickets for all RSC productions in Stratford-upon-Avon, London and on tour. £5 Tickets for productions at the Barbican can be booked in advance on the phone or in person with some available for sale on the day of the performance. £5 tickets for 16-25s and the 16-25 Shakespeare Pass are generously supported by BP.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream: A Play for the Nation

A co-production between the Royal Shakespeare Company and amateur companies across the UK.

This is an arrangement developed between the RSC and Equity.

Between 17 – 21 May 2016, the RSC and the Tower Theatre Company will perform the nation’s favourite Shakespeare play as never before; intertwining professional and amateur actors, who play Bottom and the mechanicals. Following its run in Stratford-upon-Avon and UK tour, the show will arrive at the Barbican, where school children from East London will play Titania’s fairy train.

On Midsummer’s Day this year, the RSC announced the 14 amateur companies from around the UK who will be joining the professional company on their journey. Meet the Bottoms in the trailer and visit the Dream 2016 website to get to know the Tower Theatre Company.

http://www.rsc.org.uk/whats-on/dream2016/trailer-meet-the-bottoms.aspx

http://www.dream2016.org.uk/

The Barbican Weekender

The RSC will take part in the Barbican Weekender in March 2016 filling the Barbican Centre’s spaces with playful experiences, interactive workshops, insightful talks, fun installations and performances with a difference, offering something for everyone, young and old, families and friends.

Marking the 400th anniversary celebrations in 2016, the next Weekender, PLAY ON, which is a free event, will take place on Sat 5 & Sun 6 March 2016, with Shakespeare being a starting point for featured artists and their modern responses to the playwright’s world which will take centre stage.

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NEWS: David Threlfall & Rufus Hound star in Don Quixote in RSC spring 2016

In News, Plays, Press Releases, Regional theatre by Press ReleasesLeave a Comment

The Royal Shakespeare Company today announces the productions in its Stratford-upon-Avon spring/summer 400th anniversary season in 2016. The highlights are: Spring/Summer productions Royal Shakespeare Theatre A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM: A PLAY FOR THE NATION, directed by Erica Whyman and co-produced with 14 amateur companies from every nation and region of the UK, opens in Stratford, before embarking on a nationwide …

MATILDA – Sydney, Australia

In Australia, Musicals, Reviews by Simon ParrisLeave a Comment

Music theatre lovers rejoice! The sea of revivals has parted to deliver a bona fide world hit, and the Australian production is a dream come true.

Wickedly subversive, endlessly inventive and as funny as it is moving, Matilda is sheer joy for adults and children, boys and girls alike. Dennis Kelly’s book deftly sidesteps the inherent risk of saccharine sentimentality in children’s stories with elements of horror and fantasy on par with the qualities have ensured ongoing affection for films such as The Wizard of Oz and Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.

NEWS: RSC Announce Full Cast for Hecuba

In News, Plays, Regional theatre by Matt MerrittLeave a Comment

Full casting is announced for the Swan Theatre production of Marina Carr’s new play based on the epic tale of Hecuba, directed by RSC Deputy Artistic Director Erica Whyman with Derbhle Crotty in the title role, opening on Thursday 24 September 2015.  

Derbhle Crotty returns to the RSC to play Hecuba, having previously played Lady Macbeth and Lady Duncan in the 2007 repertory season ofMacbeth and Ionesco’s Macbett. Derbhle is currently playing Bolingbroke/Henry IV in DruidShakespeare, which has played various venues in Ireland, New York and at the Kilkenny Festival. She is known for her film roles in Notes on a Scandal (2006), Rory O’Shea Was Here (2004) andNoble (2014).

Also returning is RSC Associate Artist Ray Fearon as Agamemnon, who has worked extensively with the RSC, most recently as Mark Antony inJulius Caesar and as the title role in Othello (1999). His recent theatre credits include playing Macduff in Macbeth at the Manchester International Festival; Ray also appeared in the 2006 series of Strictly Come Dancing. Joining him is Edmund Kingsley who plays Polymestor. Edmund can currently be seen in the BBC 2 mini-series Life in Squares as John Maynard Keynes. His RSC credits include Antony and Cleopatra, Julius Caesar and The Tempest, as part of the Complete Works Festival, Richard III, King John and Lord of the Flies. His film credits include Hugo (2011) and Stonehearst Asylum (2014).

The full cast includes: Nadia Albina (Cassandra); David Ajao (Nepotolemus); Derbhle Crotty (Hecuba); Ray Fearon (Agamemnon); Edmund Kingsley (Polymestor); Amy McAllister (Polyxena); Chu Omambala (Odysseus) and Lara Stubbs (Hecuba’s Woman).

Hecuba is designed by Soutra Gilmour with lighting by Charles Balfour. The music is composed by Isobel Waller-Bridge with sound byAndrew Franks. Movement is by Ayse Tashkiran.

NEWS: RSC Announce Full Cast for Hecuba

In News, Plays, Regional theatre by Matt MerrittLeave a Comment

Full casting is announced for the Swan Theatre production of Marina Carr’s new play based on the epic tale of Hecuba, directed by RSC Deputy Artistic Director Erica Whyman with Derbhle Crotty in the title role, opening on Thursday 24 September 2015.  

Derbhle Crotty returns to the RSC to play Hecuba, having previously played Lady Macbeth and Lady Duncan in the 2007 repertory season ofMacbeth and Ionesco’s Macbett. Derbhle is currently playing Bolingbroke/Henry IV in DruidShakespeare, which has played various venues in Ireland, New York and at the Kilkenny Festival. She is known for her film roles in Notes on a Scandal (2006), Rory O’Shea Was Here (2004) andNoble (2014).

Also returning is RSC Associate Artist Ray Fearon as Agamemnon, who has worked extensively with the RSC, most recently as Mark Antony inJulius Caesar and as the title role in Othello (1999). His recent theatre credits include playing Macduff in Macbeth at the Manchester International Festival; Ray also appeared in the 2006 series of Strictly Come Dancing. Joining him is Edmund Kingsley who plays Polymestor. Edmund can currently be seen in the BBC 2 mini-series Life in Squares as John Maynard Keynes. His RSC credits include Antony and Cleopatra, Julius Caesar and The Tempest, as part of the Complete Works Festival, Richard III, King John and Lord of the Flies. His film credits include Hugo (2011) and Stonehearst Asylum (2014).

The full cast includes: Nadia Albina (Cassandra); David Ajao (Nepotolemus); Derbhle Crotty (Hecuba); Ray Fearon (Agamemnon); Edmund Kingsley (Polymestor); Amy McAllister (Polyxena); Chu Omambala (Odysseus) and Lara Stubbs (Hecuba’s Woman).

Hecuba is designed by Soutra Gilmour with lighting by Charles Balfour. The music is composed by Isobel Waller-Bridge with sound byAndrew Franks. Movement is by Ayse Tashkiran.

VOLPONE – Stratford-upon-Avon

In Plays, Regional theatre, Reviews by Jonathan BazLeave a Comment

Trevor Nunn’s production of Volpone at the RSC’s Swan sagely contends that the sins of greed and avarice are timeless. With Ben Jonson’s 17th century comedy set squarely in a modern Venice, if some of Ranjit Bolt’s occasional script revisions are schoolboy clumsy (silly references to Greece and the Euro pop up), they can be forgiven in a plot in which incredible complexities may not have weathered the test of time as much as the brilliant observation of the flawed human condition that makes this play so entertaining.

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NEWS: Joely Richardson, Robert Sheehan and Kare Conradi lead Nunn’s revival of The Wars of the Roses … at the Rose

In London theatre, News, Plays by Press ReleasesLeave a Comment

Rose Theatre Kingston today announces that Joely Richardson, Robert Sheehan and Kåre Conradi, lead the company for The Wars of the Roses. This autumn the Rose stage will be transformed into a battleground for The Wars of the Roses, a gripping adaptation of four of Shakespeare’s history plays, directed by Trevor Nunn. The productions will play in rep from 16 September until 31 October, with press performances for all three plays on 3 October.

THE MERCHANT OF VENICE – Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford upon Avon

In Plays, Regional theatre, Reviews by Libby PurvesLeave a Comment

What an odd, stark, angry, intelligent Merchant this is! Wholly unlike the last RSC production, Rupert Goold’s spectacular Merchant-of-Vegas gameshow. Polly Findlay sets it modern dress, on a bare stage whose floor and backdrop are gold bars, mirroring the auditorium and making us visible witnesses to the case of Antonio, the shipowning speculator, and his deal with Shylock the Jew. A gilded pendulum swings constantly at stage level; the three caskets descend too, 65 feet from the grid on wires, bald as geometry diagrams – cube, cone, cylinder.

DEATH OF A SALESMAN – Noel Coward Theatre, West End

In London theatre, Plays, Regional theatre, Reviews by Jonathan BazLeave a Comment

Plaudits have already been heaped on Antony Sher’s performance as Willy Loman in Greg Doran’s scorching production of Death of a Salesman for the RSC. Arthur Miller’s keynote play, long held up as a searching critique of the 20th-century American psyche, pitches Sher into a role that sees him suicidally depressed, hurled onto the scrap heap and casually catapulted between imaginary decades at the playwright’s whim. Often referred to as the Hamlet of American literature, Sher’s immersion in the role is total as he nails Loman’s doomed fragility.

Curse of the character actor? Antony Sher doubted he could play Falstaff

In Awards, Features, Inspiring people, London theatre, Opinion, Plays, Quotes, Regional theatre by Terri PaddockLeave a Comment

Tonight, Antony Sher opens in the West End in RSC’s transfer of Death of a Salesman. But, as acclaimed as the production is, as important as it is in this centenary year of Arthur Miller’s birth, and as epic a part as the role of life’s underdog Willy Loman (who Sher plays) is, the truth […]