Later this year, the three Shakespeare productions from the Royal Shakespeare Company’s (RSC) Summer 2019 Stratford season transfer to the Barbican from 26th October 2019. Featuring a Company of 27 actors, who each appear across two of the three productions, this electrifying Season explores the themes of morality, love, power and gender and sparks with striking resonance.
‘All the world really is a stage in Kimberley Sykes’ playful and imaginative take on Shakespeare’s romantic comedy.
As You Like It dares you to change your state of mind’.
Following her roles in ‘Dido, Queen of Carthage’, ‘Julius Caesar’ and ‘Antony and Cleopatra’ in 2017, Lucy Phelps plays Rosalind in Kimberley Sykes’ production of ‘As You Like It‘, which opens the season. She is joined by David Ajao as Orlando, whose previous productions for the RSC include ‘The Merchant of Venice’, ‘Othello’ and ‘Hecuba’. There will be a Chilled Performance of ‘As You Like It’ on Thursday 5th December, the first of its kind at the Barbican.
RSC Director of Design, Stephen Brimson Lewis designs the set for ‘As You Like It’, with Bretta Gerecke designing both costumes and lighting in a first for the RSC. Music is composed by Tim Sutton, with sound by Jonathan Ruddick and movement by Ayse Tashkiran. Fights are by Rachel Bown-Williams and Ruth Cooper-Brown, with Puppetry Director and Co-Design by Mervyn Millar.
‘As You Like It‘ will run at the Barbican from 26th October 2019 to 18th January 2020.
‘The ultimate battle of the sexes is turned on its head in Justin Audibert’s The Taming of the Shrew as the 1590s are reimagined – with women in charge’.
Having last been at the RSC in 2017 to direct ‘Snow in Midsummer’ in the Swan Theatre, Justin Audibert returns to direct a staging of ‘The Taming of the Shrew‘, set in a world in which women hold the power. In a cast where women play roles written as men, and men play roles written as women, Claire Price plays Petruchia and Joseph Arkley plays Katherine.
The set for ‘The Taming of the Shrew’ is designed by Stephen Brimson Lewis, with costume design by Hannah Clark and lighting by Matt Peel. Music is composed by Ruth Chan, sound by Claire Windsor, and movement by Lucy Cullingford. Fights are by Rachel Bown-Williams and Ruth Cooper-Brown.
‘The Taming of the Shrew‘ will run at the Barbican from 5th November 2019 to 18th January 2020.
‘A young novice nun is compromised by a corrupt official who offers to save her brother from execution in return for sex. When she threatens to expose him, he tells her that no one would believe her’.
Last to join the repertoire will be ‘Measure for Measure‘, directed by RSC Artistic Director, Gregory Doran. Sandy Grierson, who played the roles of Faustus and Mephistopheles in Maria Aberg’s 2016 production of ‘Dr Faustus’, plays Angelo, and following his performance as Antony in ‘Antony and Cleopatra’, Antony Byrne returns to play The Duke. They are joined by Lucy Phelps in the role of Isabella.
The set and costumes for ‘Measure for Measure’ are designed by Stephen Brimson Lewis, with lighting by Simon Spencer. Music is composed by Paul Englishby. Sound is by Steven Atkinson, movement by Lucy Cullingford and fights are by Rachel Bown-Williams and Ruth Cooper-Brown.
‘Measure for Measure‘ will run at the Barbican from 12th November 2019 to 16th January 2020.
The three productions will be going on tour to Salford in 2019, before visiting Canterbury, Plymouth, Nottingham, Newcastle upon Tyne and Blackpool in 2020.
Gregory Doran, RSC Artistic Director, said about the season:“This season we have worked particularly hard to assemble a company which reflects the nation in ways it has never done before. We have introduced a 50/50 gender balanced ensemble across the entire season for the very first time and brought together talent from all corners of the United Kingdom, reflecting both the ethnic, geographical and cultural diversity of Britain today and those artists that are underrepresented on our stages. We want to create a season of work which places contemporary audiences at its heart, which speaks directly to the present moment. I’ve always been struck by Shakespeare’s use of the word ‘now’. It’s his favourite word. He starts plays with it (“Now is the winter of our discontent”), introduces choruses with it (‘Now entertain conjecture of a time”). “Now, now, very now”! It takes you right into the moment. The stories he tells may have been written down hundreds of years ago but they’re happening now, to all of us. I hope this season will express the Now, now, very now-ness of Shakespeare’s plays”.
Toni Racklin, Barbican Head of Theatre, added:“We’re delighted to welcome the RSC back to the Barbican, its London home. We’re looking forward to presenting this exciting combination of plays for which the RSC has assembled a group of actors, representative of our nation and particularly relevant in a megacity like London. Rounding off the season our two organisations co-host ‘Towards a Creative Curriculum’ at the Barbican, an important all-day event for teachers designed to enhance arts education in schools. And for the first time the RSC brings a ‘chilled performance’ to our stage, which takes a welcoming approach to noise and movement in the auditorium, allowing even more audiences to experience Shakespeare”.