A Life Of Galileo

14 September 2012

Ian McDiarmid returns to the RSC to play Galileo in Mark Ravehill's new translation of Brecht's A Life of Galileo

A Life of Galileo
By Bertolt Brecht
Translated by Mark Ravenhill
Directed by Roxana Silbert

Swan Theatre 31 January – 30 March 2013
Press night: Tuesday 12 February 2013, 7pm

Part of the RSC's A World Elsewhere trilogy of newly adapted classics from around the world
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Arguably Brecht's greatest play, A Life of Galileo charts the seventeenth century scientist's extraordinary fight with the church over his assertion that the earth orbits the sun. Brecht beautifully captures the explosive struggle between scientific discovery and religious fundamentalism.

This new translation by RSC Writer in Residence Mark Ravenhill is directed by RSC Associate Roxana Silbert, who recently directed Richard III and A Soldier in Every Son: The Rise of the Aztecs as part of the World Shakespeare Festival. She took up her new position of Artistic Director of the Birmingham Rep in June 2012.

A Life of Galileo runs in the Royal Shakespeare Company's Swan Theatre from 31 January to 30 March 2013 and will run in repertoire with The Orphan of Zhao and Boris Godunov as part of the A World Elsewhere trilogy.

The title role is played by Ian McDiarmid making his first RSC appearance since 1985.

Roxana said of Ian McDiarmid: 'Ian is a brave, fearless, charismatic actor brimming with the acute intelligence demanded by the role of Galileo.'

Ian previously worked for the RSC in the 1976-7 season and then later in the 1984-5 season, in plays which include: Schweyk in the Second World War, The Maple Tree Game, Henry V, Dingo, Destiny, Macbeth and Much Ado About Nothing. Other recent theatre includes: Timon in Timon of Athens for Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, Maximus in Emperor and Galilean for the National Theatre, The Elector in The Prince of Homburg, the title role in John Gabriel Borkman for The Donmar Warehouse and the father in RSC Associate Director Rupert Goold's Six Characters in Seach of an Author for the Chichester Festival Theatre.

Amongst Ian's directing credits are: Don Juan for the Royal Exchange, The Possibilities, Scenes from an Execution, The Rehearsal and Lulu – all for the Almeida where he was joint artistic director of the company with Jonathan Kent from 1990 to 2002. During that time his acting roles for the Almeida included Prospero in The Tempest and the award winning role of Teddy in The Faith Healer (both directed by Jonathan Kent), as well as Barabas in Michael Grandage's production of The Jew of Malta.

Ian is perhaps best known for his iconic role as Supreme Chancellor Palpatine and Emperor Palpatine (aka Darth Sidious) in George Lucas' Star Wars – Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, Star Wars II: Attack of the Clones, Star Wars – Episode 1: The Phantom Menace and Star Wars – Episode VI: Return of the Jedi.

Other films include Dr Thomas Lancaster in Tim Burton's Sleepy Hollow with Johnny Depp, Arthur in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Andreev in Gorky Park and Brother Jacobus in Dragonslayer.

Jodie McNee returns to the company to play Virginia after her acclaimed roles last season including Isabella in Roxana Silbert's Measure for Measure, and in Written on the Heart (the latter transferred to the West End after a run in the Swan Theatre in Stratford upon Avon).

Ian and Jodie join the acting ensemble currently in rehearsal for Gregory Doran's The Orphan of Zhao by James Fenton and Michael Boyd's production of Boris Gudonov adapted by Adrian Mitchell. Further casting details will be announced in due course.

The production is designed by Tom Scutt, who designed the RSC's recent productions of Romeo and Juliet and The Merchant of Venice. Music and sound is by Nick Powell and lighting is by Rick Fisher.

For further information, please contact Philippa Harland on 020 7845 0512 or philippa.harland@rsc.org.uk or Jo Hammond on 01789 412622 or jo.hammond@rsc.org.uk.

For press ticket requests and regional requests, please contact Dean Asker on 01789 412660 or dean.asker@rsc.org.uk.

Date of issue: Friday 14 September 2012

Notes to Editors:

• A World Elsewhere is a trilogy of newly adapted plays from around the world written or imagined during Shakespeare's lifetime. 'A World Elsewhere' is a quote from Shakespeare's Coriolanus, reminding Rome's citizens that there are other countries and people apart from their own. The other plays in the trilogy, which run in repertoire with A Life of Galileo in the Swan Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon are The Orphan of Zhao adapted by James Fenton (previewing from 30 October 2012) and directed by Gregory Doran and a new adaptation of Boris Godunov by Adrian Mitchell based on the play by Alexander Pushkin and directed by Michael Boyd (previewing from 15 November 2012).

• Rehearsal and production images will be available to download as soon as they are available by registering on www.epo-online.com

• Twitter hashtag: #RSCGalileo

• The RSC Ensemble is generously supported by THE GATSBY CHARITABLE FOUNDATION and THE KOVNER FOUNDATION

• The RSC Literary Department is generously supported by THE DRUE HEINZ TRUST

• Mark Ravenhill's post as Writer in Residence is generously supported by the Columbia Foundation Fund of the Capital Community Foundation.

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