50th Birthday casting release

31 January 2011

'We re-open with a season that celebrates this rich heritage and signals our intent for the decades to come'

RSC 50th Birthday Season April – November 2011

- Jonathan Slinger and Aislín McGuckin return to play Macbeth and Lady Macbeth in Michael Boyd's production
- Patrick Stewart is Shylock in Rupert Goold's The Merchant of Venice
- Nancy Meckler returns to direct A Midsummer Night's Dream
- Anthony Neilson to direct Marat/Sade
- Gregory Doran casts 25 year old newcomer Oliver Rix as Cardenio
- Sara Crowe to play Lady Frugal in The City Madam
- David Greig's Dunsinane reaches Swan Theatre
- Major revival of Pinter's The Homecoming

2011 is a significant year in the history of the Royal Shakespeare Company. It celebrates its 50th Birthday with a season of nine plays in the newly transformed Royal Shakespeare Theatre and the Swan Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon.

Artistic Director Michael Boyd said: 'It's fifty years since Peter Hall founded the Royal Shakespeare Company: fifty years that have seen the Company play a vital role at the beating heart of British theatre, working with, learning from and training a who's who of playwrights, actors, directors and theatre practitioners. Now we re-open with a season that celebrates this rich heritage and signals our intent for the decades to come.'

'Two companies of actors will play across both the Royal Shakespeare Theatre and Swan Theatre, presenting a repertoire of work by Shakespeare and his contemporaries, new work and revivals of some of our greatest hits.'

Rehearsals for Macbeth, Cardenio, The City Madam and The Merchant of Venice began last week.

Royal Shakespeare Theatre

Macbeth
By William Shakespeare

16 April – 6 October 2011
Press Night: Tuesday 26 April at 7pm

Michael Boyd directs the first new production to open in the newly transformed Royal Shakespeare Theatre, and Jonathan Slinger takes the title role.

Boyd said of Jonathan Slinger: 'Jonathan is without doubt one of the finest actors of his generation, and has more than proved himself in the role of disturbed Shakespearean Kings.'

Jonathan was part of the ensemble in Michael's award-winning Histories cycle, which began in 2006 in The Courtyard Theatre during the Complete Works Festival and went on to play to sell-out houses at the Roundhouse in London. His roles included Richard II and Richard III. Other roles for the RSC include Puck in Greg Doran's A Midsummer Night's Dream, David Greig's The American Pilot in The Other Place and Dromio of Syracuse in Nancy Meckler's The Comedy of Errors (all in 2005). He recently played Richard in Dennis Kelly's The Gods Weep at the Hampstead Theatre.

Other stage work includes Bernard in Yes, Prime Minister at the Chichester Festival Theatre and the West End and Astrov in Uncle Vanya at the Young Vic. His television credits include: The Adventures of Daniel (BBC), Vexed, Paradox, Krod Mondoon and Hustle. His films include The Veil of Maya (2010) and The Knight's Tale (2000).

Also making a welcome return to the RSC is Aislín McGuckin as Lady Macbeth. In 2005/6 she played Olivia in Michael Boyd's production of Twelfth Night, and in 2000 played Countess d'Auvergne and Margery Jourdain in his productions of Henry VI, Part 1 and Part II and Lady Anne in Richard III.

Her other theatre credits include: The Clearing (Shared Experience), and Emma in Our Father at the Almeida Theatre. Films include: Maria in The White Countess and Aislin in The Nephew. Her television work includes: Doctor Liz Merrick in Heartbeat and Emily in David Copperfield.

The cast also includes: Madeline Appiah (Gentlewoman) Jamie Beamish (Porter), Howard Charles (Malcolm), Scott Handy (Ross), Aidan Kelly (Macduff), Caroline Martin (Lady Macduff), Des McAleer (Duncan), Nikesh Patel (Donalbain), Daniel Percival (First Murderer), Daniel Rose (Second Murderer), Steve Toussaint (Banquo), Christopher Wright (Doctor).

Designs are by RSC Associate, Tom Piper, lighting by Jean Kalman, music by Craig Armstrong, sound by Andrew Franks, movement by Struan Leslie and fights by Terry King.

The Merchant of Venice
By William Shakespeare

13 May – 26 September 2011
Press night: Thursday 19 May at 7pm

Following his critically acclaimed production of Romeo and Juliet, RSC Associate Director Rupert Goold directs one of Shakespeare's most controversial plays, The Merchant of Venice.

Patrick Stewart returns to the RSC to play Shylock. He last performed for the company in 2008 in Hamlet – in Stratford, London and on film playing Claudius and the Ghost opposite David Tennant in the title role. He previously worked with Goold for the RSC in 2006 during the Complete Works Festival playing Prospero in The Tempest. In that same season, Patrick played Antony in Antony and Cleopatra opposite Harriet Walter. Rupert recently directed Patrick as Macbeth – in the UK, New York and on film.

Stewart is probably best known for his television and film roles as Captain Jean-Luc Picard in Star Trek: The Next Generation and Professor Charles Xavier in the X-Men film series as well as the voice of William Shakespeare in the upcoming Disney animation Gnomeo And Juliet. In 2010 he received a knighthood in the New Year Honours list for his services to Drama.

Playing Portia is Susannah Fielding. Her recent stage work includes: An Enemy of the People at The Crucible in Sheffield, The Hour We Knew Nothing of Each Other, Hero in Much Ado about Nothing, Philistines and Rosa Delle Rose in The Rose Tattoo – all for the National Theatre. In 2006 she played Trinculo in the Guildhall School/RSC production of The Tempest. Her screen roles include playing the lead in the film, Kill Keith and on TV, Chloe in Pete Versus Life, Doctor Who and Wallander.

The cast also includes: Madeline Appiah, Jamie Beamish (Launcelot Gobbo), Howard Charles (Gratiano), Scott Handy (Antonio), Aidan Kelly, Caroline Martin (Jessica), Des McAleer (Duke of Venice/Old Gobbo), Jason Morell (Arragon), David Ononokpono (Morocco), Nikesh Patel (Balthasar), Daniel Percival (Lorenzo), Emily Plumtree (Nerissa), Richard Riddell (Bassanio), Daniel Rose, Steve Toussaint, Christopher Wright (Tubal)

Designs are by Tom Scutt, lighting by Rick Fisher, music by Adam Cork, sound by Gregory Clarke, choreography by Scott Ambler and music associate and orchestrations by Alex Baranowski.

A Midsummer Night's Dream
By William Shakespeare

29 July – 5 November 2011
Press Night: Thursday 4 August at 7pm

Nancy Meckler returns to the RSC to direct A Midsummer Night's Dream. Her previous productions for the RSC include The Comedy of Errors in the RST in 2005 and House of Desires (part of the Spanish Golden Age Season) in the Swan in 2004.

She said: 'Having created work for the Swan and the former RST, I am thrilled to be returning to the RSC for the first season on the new stage with a new production of A Midsummer Night's Dream.'

Pippa Nixon returns to the RSC to play Titania, the Queen of the Fairies and Hippolyta. Her previous work for the company includes Roy Williams' Days of Significance in 2006 and in 2010, a version of Henry V in New York. Her other theatre credits include: the title role in Bea at Soho Theatre, Mad Forrest at the Battersea Arts Centre, Round 1, The Factory at Hampstead Theatre and a season at The Globe, when her roles included Hermia in A Midsummer Night's Dream and Jessica in The Merchant of Venice. Her television work includes Law and Order UK, and Wannabes.

Jo Stone-Fewings plays Oberon, the King of the Fairies and Theseus. His most recent work for the RSC includes Orsino in Twelfth Night in Stratford and the West End in 2009-10, and the Bastard in King John in 2002. Other theatre includes Dancing at Lughnasa at the Old Vic, Richard Hannay in The Thirty Nine Steps at the Criterion and Angels in America for Headlong Theatre at the Lyric Theatre, Hammersmith. Amongst his TV credits are: Misfits, New Tricks and Doctor Who.

Playing the young lovers are: Lucy Briggs-Owen as Helena, Alex Hassell as Demetrius, Matti Houghton as Hermia and Nathaniel Martello-White (Lysander).

The cast also includes: Maya Barcot (Fairy), Christopher Chilton (Fairy), Kammy Darweish (Egeus), Christopher Godwin (Quince), Michael Grady-Hall (Flute), Felix Hayes (Snug), Chiké Okonkwo (Snout) and Timothy Speyer (Starveling).

Joining Nancy on the creative team are designer Katrina Lindsay and lighting designer, Wolfgang Gobbel.

Marat/Sade
The persecution and assassination of Marat as performed by the inmates of the asylum of Charenton under the director of the Marquis de Sade
By Peter Weiss
English adaptation by Geoffrey Skelton
Verse adaptation by Adrian Mitchell

14 October – 5 November 2011
Press Night: Thursday 20 October at 7pm

RSC Literary Associate Anthony Neilson directs this new production of Marat/Sade in the 50th Birthday year. His previous directing work for the RSC includes God in Ruins (his own play) at the Soho Theatre in 2007 and The Drunks in 2009. He recently wrote and directed Get Santa for the Royal Court Theatre.

Neilson said: 'I look forward to working with the new ensemble on the forthcoming revival of Marat/Sade a production which will, I hope, cast a fresh and contemporary light on Peter Weiss' seminal play, both formally and contextually; and restore to it at least some of the forceful impact of Peter Brook's and Adrian Mitchell's legendary RSC production.'

The RSC's 1964 production of Peter Weiss' play, directed by Peter Brook, to this day, remains one of the company's most important and acclaimed productions. Adrian Mitchell's verse adaptation combined with Geoffrey Skelton's English version seeks to present an unflinching and very human commentary on society and revolution.

The play is set in post revolutionary France. The inmates of an asylum present a play about the murder of Jean-Paul Marat under the direction of the notorious Marquis de Sade. As the director of the asylum and his family sit down expecting to see a patriotic display, they are confronted with a performance that is unruly, shocking and outspoken.

Movement is by Anna Morrissey and lighting by Chahine Yavroyan.

Swan Theatre

Cardenio
Shakespeare's 'Lost Play' re-imagined

14 April – 6 October 2011
Press Night: Wednesday 27 April at 7pm

After extensive auditions, a newcomer has landed the part of Cardenio which will celebrate the re-opening of the Swan Theatre. RSC Chief Associate Director, Gregory Doran said: 'Oliver Rix, a 25 year old graduate from Oxford University and LAMDA can't quite believe he's landed this major new role. But I believe he will bring something quite exceptional to the role. He's a very exciting new talent.'

In 1727, Lewis Theobold presented The Double Falsehood at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane. He claimed it was an adaptation of a lost play by Shakespeare, based on the story of Cardenio in Cervantes' Don Quixote. Such a play by Shakespeare and John Fletcher was indeed performed at court in 1612.

Gregory Doran has completed a piece of literary archaeology and attempts to reconstruct the extraordinary story of Cardenio, the subject of Fletcher and Shakespeare's lost play.

The cast also includes: Maya Barcot (Nun), Lucy Briggs-Owen (Luscinda), Christopher Chilton (Priest), Liz Crowther (Duenna), Nicholas Day (Don Bernardo), Christopher Ettridge (Duke), Christopher Godwin (Don Camillo), Michael Grady-Hall (Shepherd), Alex Hassell (Fernando), Felix Hayes (Shepherd), Matti Houghton (Maid), Simeon Moore (Pedro), Harry Myers (Citizen), Pippa Nixon (Dorotea), Chiké Okonkwo (Gerardo) and Timothy Speyer (Master Shepherd).

Joining Gregory Doran on the creative team are: Niki Turner (designer), Tim Mitchell (lighting), Paul Englishby (music), Martin Slavin (sound), Michael Ashcroft (movement) and Terry King (fights).

The City Madam
By Philip Massinger

5 May – 4 October 2011
Press Night: Wednesday 11 May at 7pm

Dominic Hill, Artistic Director of the Traverse Theatre in Edinburgh joins the RSC for the first time to direct Massinger's raucous satire on greed and misplaced pride.

In this biting comedy, wealthy merchant John Frugal takes pity on his penniless and dissolute brother Luke Frugal (played by Jo Stone-Fewings) and invites him to live under his roof together with his own haughty wife and two foolishly conceited daughters.

As Luke plots to steal from his brother and his daughters arrogantly spurn worthy suitors, John plans to teach them all a lesson.
Christopher Godwin makes a welcome return to the RSC to play Sir John Frugal. His many roles for the company include: Gregory Doran's The Canterbury Tales in the Swan and on tour as well as his productions of The Taming of the Shrew and The Tamer Tamed in 2003 and in 1995 The Devil is an Ass and The Relapse. His recent television credits include: My Family, Forgotten Army and Lead Balloon.

Sara Crowe plays Lady Frugal. Sara has extensive credits on stage, television and film, and is probably best known for her comedy roles. Sara is currently appearing in Rattigan's Less than Kind at the Jermyn Street Theatre. Her other theatre credits include: an RSC tour of A Woman of No Importance, Olivia in Peter Hall's Twelfth Night and in she appeared in his West End production of Bedroom Farce. Sara played Ruth in Calendar Girls, Babs in a UK tour of Acorn Antiques and Camilla Parker Bowles in A Right Royal Farce at the King's Head in Islington. On film she played Laura in Mike Newell's film Four Weddings and a Funeral and Carry on Columbus and her many television appearances include: Skins, The Rory Bremner Show, The Harry Enfield Show and Doctors.

The cast also includes: Lucy Briggs-Owen (Anne), Christopher Chilton (Dingem), Liz Crowther (Millicent/Secret), Kammy Darweish (Old Tradewell/Fortune), Nicholas Day (Lord Lacy), Christopher Ettridge (Holdfast), Michael Grady-Hall (Scuffle), Alex Hassell (Maurice), Felix Hayes (Mr Plenty), Matti Houghton (Mary), Nathaniel Martello-White (Goldwire), Andrew Melville (Hoist/Old Goldwire), Simeon Moore (Stargaze), Harry Myers (Getall/Serjeant), Pippa Nixon (Shavem), Chiké Okonkwo (Tradewell), Oliver Rix and Timothy Speyer (Penury).

RSC Associate Tom Piper is designing the costumes, lighting is by Tim Mitchell, music and sound by Dan Jones, movement by Struan Leslie and fights by Renny Krupinski.

The National Theatre of Scotland presents the Royal Shakespeare Company's production in association with the Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh
Dunsinane
By David Greig

15 June – 2 July 2011
Press night: Thursday 16 June at 7pm

RSC Associate Director Roxana Silbert revives her acclaimed production of Dunsinane which premiered at Hampstead Theatre in 2010.

Roxana said: 'I'm thrilled to be bringing David Greig's Dunsinane to the Swan. It was actually written for the space, so it's like bringing it home. Wonderful, too, that it will be seen after Michael Boyd's Macbeth on the new RST stage providing a gratifying sequel for those who wondered what happened after....'

David Greig added: 'Dunsinane emerged for me around five years ago when there seemed to be several productions of Macbeth being performed. Macbeth is about the toppling of a king. But I found I was interested in what happened after that king was overthrown. How does an army restore a kingdom to peace? I also had a cheeky desire to respond to the fact that the most famous Scottish play was written by the most famous English writer. I wanted to look at the story from a Scottish point of view. And who could resist the chance to revisit Lady Macbeth, one of the greatest characters in all drama?'

Casting includes: Brian Ferguson (Malcolm), Lisa Hogg (Attendant), Joshua Jenkins (Soldier/Lord), Alex Mann (Egham), Mairi Morrison (Attendant) and Jonny Phillips (Siward) and Siobhan Redmond (Gruach).

Siobhan Redmond's previous roles for the RSC include The Comedy of Errors, Twelfth Night, The Spanish Tragedy and Much Ado about Nothing. Her television work includes: The Catherine Tate Show, Eastenders, New Tricks, Sea of Souls, The High Life and Holby City.

Joining Roxana on the creative team is Robert Innes Hopkins (designer), Chahine Yavroyan (lighting), Nick Powell (music and sound), Anna Morrissey (movement) and Terry King (fights).

Dunsinane will receive its Scottish premiere at The Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh on Friday 13 May followed by dates at Glasgow's Citizens Theatre in June 201. A version adapted for radio was broadcast on BBC Radio 3 on 30 January at 8pm.

The Homecoming
By Harold Pinter

28 July – 15 October 2011
Press Night: Wednesday 3 August at 7pm

Premiered by the RSC in 1965, The Homecoming is considered by many to be Pinter's masterpiece. It is directed by David Farr, and is being revived as part of the RSC's 50th Birthday celebrations.

David Farr, RSC Associate Director said:'I directed the 50th anniversary production of The Birthday Party at The Lyric shortly before Harold died. He was very much involved, displaying that characteristic passion for the simple act of making theatre. To direct one of the first productions after his death is a great honour. To direct The Homecoming, which I think is possibly his greatest achievement is a genuine thrill. It will be strange doing it without him.'

The cast includes: Des McAleer (Sam), Aislín McGuckin (Ruth), Richard Riddell (Joey), Jonathan Slinger (Lenny) and
Further casting to be announced.

The designer is John Bausor and lighting is by Jon Clark.

Young People's Shakespeare
The Taming of the Shrew
By William Shakespeare
Edited by Tim Crouch

In schools from 19 September
Press Performance in a school: 29 September (venue and time to be announced)
In the Swan from 24 September – 15 October 2011

Following its highly successful Young People's Shakespeare productions of The Comedy of Errors and Hamlet the RSC continues its work with and for young people with a new production of The Taming of the Shrew edited and directed by Tim Crouch.

Tim Crouch, director, writer and performer said: 'The Taming of the Shrew always felt like a natural choice for the RSC's Young People's Shakespeare. Its themes of sibling rivalry, bullying, love, identity and education make it a perfect play for a young, enquiring audience. Shakespeare tells a compelling story but it is not sugar-coated. Its provocation feels particularly relevant in 2011 when the messages of gender equality and emancipation in schools, colleges and elsewhere are still as confused as ever. I am excited about honouring the comedy and the challenge of Shakespeare's play and enabling it to engage theatrically with young and old minds alike.'

He continued: 'The cast for The Taming of the Shrew is led by two outstanding young actors, David Ononokpono and Madeline Appiah, as Petruchio and Katherina. I am excited to be putting Christopher Sly (played by Jamie Beamish) back where he belongs - deep into the heart of the audience with some opinions of his own.'

The cast also includes: Caroline Martin (Baptista), Jason Morell (Grumio/Gremio), Nikesh Patel (Lucentio), Daniel Percival (Tranio), Emily Plumtree (Bianca) and Daniel Rose (Hortensio).

The production is an introduction to Shakespeare for children aged eight upwards, and families.


For further information please contact Nada Zakula in the RSC press office on 01789 412622 or 07831 766086 – nada.zakula@rsc.org.uk

Or for regional media and press ticket enquiries, Dean Asker on 01789 412660 – dean.asker@rsc.org.uk

Notes to editors:

- Dunsinane is an RSC commission. The work of the RSC Literary Department is generously supported by the Drue Heinz Trust.

- The RSC Ensemble is generously supported by The Gatsby Charitable Foundation and The Kovner Foundation
- Tickets available from the RSC Box Office: 0844 800 1110, http://www.rsc.org.uk/
- Production photographs will be available a few days after the first preview from http://www.epo-online.com/.

- Other images may be available from the RSC press office on request.

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