FEATURED: RSC Announces Casting for ‘King John’ and ‘A Museum in Baghdad’

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RSC Announces Casting for ‘King John’ and ‘A Museum in Baghdad’

Casting details have been announced for the Royal Shakespeare Company’s productions of King John and A Museum in Baghdad opening in the Swan Theatre this winter.

Richard the Lionheart is dead. His brother, John, is King of England. Threatened from all sides by Europe, the English noblemen and even his own family, King John will stop at nothing to keep hold of his crown.

William Shakespeare’s rarely performed tale of a nation in turmoil vibrates with modern resonance in this vivid new production by director Eleanor Rhode in her debut at the RSC. Eleanor’s recent work includes Rust for The Bush/Hightide, the UK premiere of Blue Door for Theatre Royal Bath, Boudica by Tristan Bernays for the Globe Theatre and Wendy and Peter Pan for the Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh.

Also making her RSC debut is Rosie Sheehy who will play the role of King John. Rosie’s TV work includes Wild Bill (42, Shiver & Anonymous); Call The Midwife (Neal Street Productions); Chernobyl (HBO Sky); DCI Banks IV (Left Bank Pictures). Her theatre credits include ANNA X (the Vaults); The Wolves (Theatre Royal Stratford East); The Whale (Theatre Royal Bath); Uncle Vanya* (Theatre Clwyd/Sheffield Theatres); Escape the Scaffold ( Theatre 503/ The Other Room); Strife (Chichester Festival Theatre); Bird (Royal Exchange Manchester/Sherman Theatre); The Hairy Ape (The Old Vic); and Chicken (Plaines Plough).

Further cast includes: David Birrell (King of France), John Cummins (Pembroke), Houda Echouafni, Ali Gadema (Essex), Nicholas Gerard-Martin (Chatillon), Zed Josef (Robert Faulconbridge), Nadi Kemp-Sayfi (Blanche), Tom McCall (Hubert), Katherine Pearce (Cardinal Pandulph), Richard Pryal(Austria), Zara Ramm (Lady Faulconbridge), Bridgitta Roy (Elinor), Corey Montague-Sholay(Salisbury), Charlotte Randle (Constance) with further cast to be announced.

Joining Eleanor Rhode on the creative team are Max Johns (Designer), Lizzie Powell (Lighting Designer), David Gregory (Sound), Tom Jackson Greaves (Movement) and Rachel Bown-Williams and Ruth Cooper-Brown (Fights).

Singer-songwriter Will Gregory will compose the music for King John. Gregory formed electronic pop group Goldfrapp in 1999 alongside bandmate Alison Goldfrapp. Together they have released seven albums, most recently ‘Silver Eye’ in 2017, and scored a string of hits including ‘Strict Machine’, ‘Ooh La La’, ‘Lovely Head’ and ‘A&E’. The multi-platinum selling band have been nominated for the Mercury Prize, multiple Grammy Awards and won an Ivor Novello for ‘Strict Machine’. Goldfrapp have also scored the soundtracks to the films ‘My Summer of Love‘ and ‘Nowhere Boy‘ and wrote the music for Carrie Cracknell’s acclaimed production ofMedea for The National Theatre. 

Will Gregory said; ‘I think Shakespeare is still one of the most important voices across all of the arts. His work has a musical dimension for me. His poetry manages to condense meaning in a super charged way that sits outside reality and we understand it with some part of our eternal self that has nothing to do with the everyday. Personally, I love the challenge of writing music for the stage. Hopefully, the score will add a fourth dimension to the audience’s experience of watching King John… like an extra cast member that Shakespeare might have added, had he been familiar with a synthesiser!’

Bruce O’Neil, RSC Head of Music, said; ‘We commission new music for every production at the Royal Shakespeare Company, from some of the best composers in the business, and perform the music live. Shakespeare’s plays are full of music, and its importance as part of the theatrical experience in Stratford is reflected in a fine tradition of composing talent that goes back to the opening of the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre in 1879. Will is a unique composing talent – and I’m very much looking forward to hearing his music for King John.’

King John will run at the RSC from 19th September 2019 to 21st March 2020, with a press night on 26th September.

King John will be filmed for later broadcast to cinemas as part of our Live From Stratford-upon-Avon series.

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A story of treasured history, desperate choices and the remarkable Gertrude Bell.

In 1926, the nation of Iraq is in its infancy, and British archaeologist Gertrude Bell is founding a museum in Baghdad. In 2006, Ghalia Hussein is attempting to reopen the museum despite the looting during the war.

Collapsing the decades that separate them, these two women seek the same prize: to create a fresh sense of unity and nationhood, to make the world anew through the museum and its treasures. But in such unstable times, questions remain. Who is the museum for? What rights do we have to try and shape someone else’s history? And why does that matter when people are dying?

Deputy Artistic Director Erica Whyman (Romeo and Juliet and Miss Littlewood, 2018) directs imaginative new play ‘A Museum in Baghdad’, by Hannah Khalil.

Returning to the RSC following roles in Revolt She Said, Revolt Again, Cymbeline, Measure for Measure, The School For Scandal, Twelfth Night, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and The Broken Heart, Emma Fielding will play English archaeologist and diplomat Gertrude Bell in Hannah Khalil’s compelling new play about treasured history, desperate choices and the value of culture.

Making her RSC debut in the role of Iraqi archaeologist Ghalia Hussein is Rendah Heywood, whose previous work in theatre includes: The Kitchen, Rocket to the Moon Philistines, The Rose Tattoo andTherese Raquin for the National Theatre, Attempts On Her Life (BAC), The Grievance Club (Samuel French OOB Festival, NYC), Refugia (Guthrie Theatre) and This Time (Off Broadway).

Further casting includes David Birrell (Leonard Woolley), Houda Echouafni (Layla/Chorus), Ali Gadema (Kidnapper/Chorus), Zed Josef (Salim), Nadi Kemp-Sayfi (Nasiya/Chorus), Debbie Korley(Sam York), Richard Pryal, Zara Ramm, Riad Richie (Mohammed) and Rasoul Saghir (Abu Zaman).

Joining Erica Whyman on the creative team are Tom Piper (Designer), Charles Balfour (Lighting Designer) Oguz Kaplangi (Music), Tanushka Marah (Movement) and Nina Dunn (Video).

A Museum in Baghdad was co-commissioned by the RSC and the Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh.

‘A Museum in Baghdad’ will run at the RSC from 11th October 2019 to 25th January 2020.

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