As the Royal Shakespeare Company continues its journey through the complete canon of Shakespeare’s work, The Winter’s Tale plays in the Royal Shakespeare Theatre (RST) from 28 March to 2 October, alongside The Comedy of Errors featuring the RSC debut of Miles Jupp as Antipholus of Syracuse from 25 April to 3 October, and Pericles from 15 August to 1 October.
After their run in Stratford-upon-Avon, the productions transfer to the Barbican from October 2020 to January 2021 for the RSC’s London Season, followed by a national tour of The Winter’s Tale in 2021.
Gregory Doran said: “The sea divides families in all three of our plays this summer. Themes of separation and loss and the restorative power of time connect all of them.
From the deftly farcical and ever popular The Comedy of Errors, to the emotional intensity of The Winter’s Tale, to the astonishing imaginative scope and political power of Pericles, each of these three plays are wonderfully different yet, at the same time, share a fascination with identity, the challenges of leaving your native land and the deep bonds of family.
The Winter’s Tale explores the corrosive effect of jealousy and the domestic violence it engenders. Erica Whyman is reunited with designer Tom Piper to open this season with this late, great play. Isobel Waller-Bridge will compose a new score for the production. Isobel previously collaborated with Erica on ‘Hecuba’ and ‘The Seven Acts of Mercy’ and has been writing scores for TV and film including Fleabag, Vita and Virginia and Vanity Fair.
The Comedy of Errors is one of Shakespeare’s earliest plays and one of his funniest. Directed by Phillip Breen, the action takes place in the Mediterranean port of Ephesus where two sets of identical twins separated since childhood are re-united, but not until a great deal of confusion ensues.
Pericles roams the sea lanes from North Africa to the Levant. His daughter is born during a storm at sea but her mother, it seems, dies giving birth to her. Pericles calls his daughter Marina in memory of that terrible event. Director Blanche McIntyre notes how the play echoes the many stories of displaced families struggling to escape oppression and forced to face the dangers of sea crossings in today’s Mediterranean. I’m very excited at the chance to reassess this timely play. It’s over a decade since we produced Pericles and nearly twenty years since it was performed in the Royal Shakespeare Theatre.”
Following its run in Stratford and the Barbican, The Winter’s Tale will go on a national tour in January 2021 with further details to be announced.
Deputy Artistic Director, Erica Whyman added: “We want as many people as possible to have the opportunity to see our work and we know that Shakespeare should be for everyone. Taking our plays around our nation is an essential part of what we do. Working with and involving the local community in each of the areas we tour to is vital and, alongside this production of The Winter’s Tale, with a number of our partner theatres, we will work with groups of adults who are completely new to theatre-making to create responses to the story which reflect on the state of the nation through the lens of each place.
“As a national theatre company, we are committed to creating opportunities for people to experience the thrill of Shakespeare in their own communities and build a life-long relationship with theatre through our nationwide tours, cinema screenings, collaborating with our 11 long-term partner theatres on developing our strong Associate Schools network, free Schools Broadcasts as well as our 545 young Shakespeare Ambassadors and our Next Generation theatre skills training for young people.”
Following her acclaimed productions of The Duchess of Malfi in 2018 and Doctor Faustus in 2016, RSC Associate Artist Maria Åberg returns to the RSC with Projekt Europa; a unique and eclectic season of plays, collaborations and events taking place in the Swan Theatre and The Other Place in 2020.
The programme comprises three new productions in the Swan Theatre directed and designed by leading European theatre artists; a series of newly commissioned monologues from prominent European writers to be presented in The Other Place; and a unique collaboration between the RSC’s Next Generation ACT young company and one of Europe’s most exciting directors of theatre for young people.
A rich and varied feast of talks, debates, exhibitions and events will be part of the season including a two-day symposium building on the success of our innovative Radical Mischief conference in 2018, all designed to explore, interrogate and celebrate our relationship to Europe.
Maria Åberg said: “Projekt Europa is a playful and profound investigation of how we live together in the context of our shared history and our possible future. We’ve invited the most exciting directors, designers and theatre artists from across Europe to come and make work especially for our audiences in Stratford-upon-Avon in a joyous celebration of the very best of European theatre making. Our directors include Barbara Frey, Artistic Director designate of the Ruhrtriennale; Tiago Rodrigues, Artistic Director at the Teatro Nacional D. Maria II in Lisbon; and Mattias Andersson, Artistic Director at Backateatern in Gothenburg.
We have specifically encouraged new collaborations and experimentation, aiming to generate work that is truly unique to our season and which can only be experienced at the RSC. I’m hoping that we can illuminate some surprising aspects of the European question, that we can excite and inspire, spark curiosity and debate, and that we can really give Stratford audiences a taste of the very best of European theatre making right now. Many of the artists involved are making work for a British audience for the very first time, so the shows also present a unique opportunity to experience a genuine theatrical experiment at a landmark moment in our shared history.”
Europeana opens the season from 9 April to 25 July, a new adaptation from the book by Patrik Ouředník by Maria Åberg and Judith Gerstenberg. This playful theatrical experiment based on the satirical Czech novel of the same name compresses a hundred years of European history into a fast-paced and eclectic narrative which collides the invention of the bra with the tragedy of the Holocaust, Barbie with dictators and fleeting human moments with epic events.
Peer Gynt – a radical new staging of Ibsen’s epic European myth for the 21st century will follow from 1 May to 23 September. The production is directed by Barbara Frey, prominent European director and Artistic Director designate for the Ruhrtriennale and adapted by Judith Gerstenberg.
Blindness and Seeing completes the season from 1 August to 26 September. Based on the Nobel Prize winning novels by José Saramago, Blindness and Seeing is a poetic and evocative vision for the future adapted and directed by rising star Tiago Rodrigues, Artistic Director of the Teatro Nacional D. Maria II in Lisbon, from a translation by Daniel Hahn.
Voices from The Edges of Europe premieres in June 2020; a series of seven newly commissioned monologues written by a range of artists including playwrights, journalists and lyricists from the outer edges of the European continent. Artists include Yıldız Çakar, Davide Carnevali, Theodora Dimova, Christos Ikonomou, Shumona Sinha, Sjón and Sivan Ben Yishai.
The seven pieces will be performed as part of the 2020 Mischief Festival in The Other Place in June and July. Full details to be announced.
Working title: Decameron 2020; The RSC’s nationwide Next Generation ACT young company will join forces with renowned Swedish director Mattias Andersson to create a new piece of work inspired by Boccaccio’s ‘Decamerone’, interwoven with personal stories that matter to the young people of Europe today.
The Next Generation talent development programme gives young people from backgrounds currently under-represented in the cultural sector the chance to explore a career in acting, directing or working backstage. This unique collaboration will premiere in July 2020 at The Other Place.
Kunene and the King: John Kani’s ‘remarkable and moving’ (***** The Guardian) two-hander, with Antony Sher and directed by Janice Honeyman, will transfer to the Ambassadors Theatre, London for a strictly limited West End run from 24 January to 28 March 2020. Co-produced by the RSC in partnership with The Fugard Theatre, Cape Town in association with Eric Abraham, this timely new play marking 25 years since South Africa’s first democratic elections, first premiered in The Swan Theatre in March 2019 and played to sell-out audiences in Cape Town when it transferred to the Fugard Theatre.
TFollowing her celebrated return to the Swan Theatre in the autumn of 2018, Kathryn Hunter will reprise her role as Timon in a new staging of Timon of Athens by New York’s Theatre for a New Audience from 11 January to 9 February 2020 and Washington’s Shakespeare Theatre Company from 20 February to 22 March 2020.
Directed by Simon Godwin, whose previous work for the RSC includes Hamlet in 2016/18 and The Two Gentlemen of Verona in 2014, the co-production will be performed as part of Simon Godwin’s debut season as Artistic Director of The Shakespeare Theatre Company Washington.
Gregory Doran’s ‘fresh, insightful’ production of William Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure, originally performed in Stratford-upon-Avon in 2019, will visit Catalan’s premiere international performing arts festival, Temporada Alta from 11 to 12 October 2019 for three performances. This will be followed by a visit to Vitoria International Theatre Festival held in the capital province of Alava on 15 October 2019.
Justin Audibert’s fierce, energetic production, The Taming of the Shrew will transfer to Chicago Shakespeare Theater from 15 April to 2 May 2020 and Washington’s Kennedy Center from 6 to 10 May 2020. The production will go on to visit Seoul’s National Theater of Korea from 2 to 6 June 2020 and the Tokyo Metropolitan Theatre from 12 to 14 June 2020.
The production will be screened alongside Kimberley Sykes’s ‘inventive…and captivating’ production of As You Like It at the Symphony Space Performing Arts Center, New York on 30 May (As You Like It) and 23 June (The Taming of the Shrew).
RSC Executive Director, Catherine Mallyon, said: “Our productions exist within a global culture and we love to share our work from Stratford-upon-Avon with audiences across the world, in theatres and in cinemas. By sharing the powerful stories from our repertoire, we aim to increase mutual understanding and celebrate new opportunities for collaboration across borders, through transfers, co-productions and other forms of creative partnership.”
Presented in Spring 2020 in multiple venues across the RSC estate in Stratford-upon-Avon, as well as on devices and online, Dream is inspired by the themes of William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and is a bold experiment in interactive storytelling which explores the connection between the physical and digital worlds as part of the Audience of the Future Demonstrator project.
The RSC leads a consortium of 15 specialist organisations and pioneers in immersive technology who, together, will use their knowledge and expertise in theatre and performance, music, video production, gaming and research to shape how audiences will experience live performance in the future.
The Audience of the Future Demonstrator consortium includes De Montfort University · Epic Games · i2 Media Research Limited · Intel · Magic Leap · Manchester International Festival · Marshmallow Laser Feast · Nesta · Phi Centre · Philharmonia Orchestra · Punchdrunk · RSC · University of Portsmouth· The Space.
The project is funded under the Audience of the Future programme – a £33m investment of public funding to grow the UK’s leading position in immersive experience production. It is part of UK Government’s £4.2bn Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund and delivered by UK Research & Innovation.
RSC Director of Digital Development, Sarah Ellis, said: “Dream will ask what a live theatrical experience might mean to audiences of the future. A live performance is traditionally defined as one that happens at a particular time, has the presence of an audience, is special and exclusive with a sense of jeopardy and suspense built in, largely because the experience differs every time. In the digital sphere, the audience is no longer necessarily in the physical space, it is still a communal experience which we enjoy together.
“We want to create a connected, emotional reality which is as equally engaging for local audiences as it is for remote audiences. One that lives beyond the physical event in which audiences are aware of and respond to each other’s existence and whose actions have consequences.
“Together with our Audience of the Future partners, we want to create space for the audience’s own imaginations, for them to leave Dream with a sense of wonder, returning to their own worlds transformed, much like the characters of ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’. By connecting with this well-known story completely differently, we hope audiences will come away having enjoyed and experienced Shakespeare’s work in a new and relevant way”.