First Encounter: The Taming of the Shrew

5 November 2013

RSC to tour 'First Encounter: The Taming of the Shrew' in Spring 2014 

Michael Fentiman directs RSC Associate Artists, Katy Stephens (as Petruchio) and Forbes Masson (as Katherine) in the lead roles 

From 6 February 2014

Performances in Stratford, followed by UK tour playing in schools and theatres in Canterbury, Bradford, Blackpool, Leicester, London and Newcastle-under-Lyme, and a visit to Ohio State University


Press Performance: Thursday 13 February 2014, The Canterbury High School, Canterbury, 12.45pm

The Royal Shakespeare Company continues its commitment to creating live theatre for young people with its First Encounter production of The Taming of the Shrew.

Directed by Michael Fentiman, and aimed at 8-13 year olds, the production will open in February 2014 in Midlands schools and The Courtyard Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon before embarking on a six week UK tour of schools and regional theatres, then travelling to the US to play at The Ohio State University. UK locations include Canterbury, Bradford, Blackpool, Leicester, London and Newcastle-under-Lyme.

With male actors playing female roles, and vice versa, this First Encounter production tells the story of two people's crazy journey towards becoming the perfect match. Using an edited version of the original text, it will also include an introduction to the performance and a chance to hear from the actors, to create a great first experience of seeing Shakespeare live.

RSC Associate Artists, Katy Stephens and Forbes Masson will take on the lead roles: Katy as Petruchio and Forbes as Katherine. Katy's recent RSC credits include Titus Andronicus, Candide, As You Like It, King Lear and The Histories, for which she won WhatsOnStage's Best Actress Award. Forbes' RSC credits include As You Like It, Romeo and Juliet and The Histories, with work elsewhere including Macbeth (Trafalgar Studios) and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (Kensington Palace Gardens).

The cast also includes: Claire Brown (Grumio), Caroline Faber (Hortensio), David Fielder (Baptista), Chris Jared (Bianca), Mimi Ndiweni (Lucentio), Ann Penfold (Gremio) and Anjana Vasan (Tranio).

The production is designed by Colin Richmond with music and sound by Tom Mills.

Michael Fentiman, director, said:
“Our production will embrace a spirit of mash up and confusion. Girls dressed as present day males will play the boys - but without beards. Boys dressed as Elizabethan females will play the girls - but with beards. Feminine and masculine are thrown around so that the audience can focus on a story about two extraordinary people, who find each other in the midst of madness, fighting like cat and dog, but, in doing so, fall madly in love.”

Michael's work for the RSC includes his recent production of Titus Andronicus, Ahasverus by Vassily Sigarev, YPS Hamlet (as Associate Director), and As You Like It and Romeo and Juliet (Assistant Director). Other credits include The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (Kensington Palace Gardens, co-director with Rupert Goold), Crackers (Belgrade, Coventry), Spoonface Steinberg (UK tour) and East (UK tour).

The tour of The Taming of the Shrew forms part of the RSC's Learning and Performance Network (LPN), a three year touring and education partnership with five regional theatres and their local schools: Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury; Alhambra Theatre, Bradford; The Grand Theatre, Blackpool; Curve, Leicester; and the New Vic in Newcastle-under-Lyme.

Jacqui O'Hanlon, RSC Director of Education said:

“Our First Encounter Series for young audiences aims to give children and young people a vivid and enjoyable first experience of Shakespeare's work. The Taming of the Shrew is a provocative play that I hope will challenge, intrigue and ultimately delight audiences of all ages, but particularly the young people for whom it has been created. The production will tour to regional theatres and schools across England who work in partnership with us through the Learning and Performance Network, a programme that aims to transform young people's experiences of Shakespeare. The RSC is committed to taking its work out nationally, ensuring that more people can participate in it. We are delighted that the production travels into the heart of communities, playing in a variety of different spaces, from primary school halls to main house stages. Along with our regional theatre partners and schools we look forward to meeting new audiences in all of the different venues, providing a great first introduction to Shakespeare's extraordinary plays and sowing the seeds for a life-long relationship with them.”

The production is an integral part of Young Shakespeare Nation, created by the RSC in partnership with HRH The Prince of Wales' charity The Prince's Foundation for Children & the Arts. This new initiative invites schools, students and teachers across the UK to join the RSC on an ambitious journey through Shakespeare's plays, giving a new generation of students the chance to discover and experience the breadth of his work. Both organisations are committed to reaching students and schools who would otherwise not have easy access to these kinds of cultural experiences.

Every school is invited to take part and teachers can choose from a range of options to explore the plays: participating in live theatre experiences, free broadcasts of productions into classrooms, and teacher professional development and workshops for students. Teachers will be supported with a range of tools, resources and opportunities.

The production will also play at the Drake Performance and Event Centre at The Ohio State University. The Royal Shakespeare Company in America is presented in collaboration with The Ohio State University.

For further information please contact:
Dean Asker
RSC Press Office
01789 412660
dean.asker@rsc.org.uk

The Taming of the Shrew UK dates:

STRATFORD-UPON-AVON/THE MIDLANDS
6-8 February 2014

The Courtyard Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon
Box Office: 0844 800 1110, www.rsc.org.uk
Thursday 6 February, 10.30am and 2.30pm
Friday 7 February, 10.30am
Saturday 8 February, 2.30pm
Performances in Midlands schools to be announced

CANTERBURY
11-14 February 2014

Dover Christ Church Academy
Tuesday 11 February, 11.10am (schools performance) and 6pm (public performance)

King Ethelbert School
Wednesday 12 February, 1.30pm (schools performance) and 6.30pm (public performance, tickets available on 01843 831999)

The Canterbury High School
Thursday 13 February, 12.45pm (press and schools performance) and 6.30pm (public performance, tickets available on 01227 463971)

The Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury
Box Office: 01227 787787, www.marlowetheatre.com
Friday 14 February, 11.30am and 7pm

BRADFORD
18-22 February 2014

Bingley Grammar School
Tuesday 18 February, 2pm and 7pm (both schools performances)
Wednesday 19 February, 2pm (schools performance) and 7pm (public performance, tickets available on 01274 807700, ext 212)

St George's Concert Hall
Box Office: 01274 432000, www.bradford-theatre.co.uk
Thursday 20 February, 2pm and 7pm
Friday 21 February, 10.30am
Saturday 22 February, 2pm

BLACKPOOL
25 February – 1 March 2014

Montgomery High School
Tuesday 25 February, 2pm (schools performance) and 7pm (public performance, tickets available on 0116 241 3984)

The Grand Theatre, Blackpool
Box Office: 01253 290190, www.blackpoolgrand.co.uk
Thursday 27 February, 2pm and 7pm
Friday 28 February, 10.15am and 2pm
Saturday 1 March, 10.15am and 2pm

LEICESTER
4-7 March 2014

City of Leicester College
Tuesday 4 March, 1pm (schools performance) and 7pm (public performance, tickets available on 0116 241 3984)
Wednesday 5 March, 10am and 2pm (schools performances)

Curve Theatre
Box Office: 0116 242 3595, www.curveonline.co.uk
Thursday 6 March, 10.30am and 2.30pm
Friday 7 March, 10.30am and 7pm

LONDON
11-14 March 2014

Uxbridge High School
Tuesday 11 March, 11.15am (schools performance) and 3.15pm (public performance)
Wednesday 12 March, 10am and 1.45pm (schools performances)

Phoenix High School
Thursday 13 March, 2.15pm (schools performance) and 6.30pm (public performance)
Friday 14 March, 10.30am, 2.30pm (schools performances)

NEWCASTLE-UNDER-LYME
18-22 March 2014

New Vic Theatre, Newcastle-under-Lyme
Box Office: 01782 717962, www.newvictheatre.org.uk
Tuesday 18 March, 1pm and 7pm

Springhead Primary School
Wednesday 19 March, 1pm (schools performance) and 7pm (public performance, tickets available from New Vic Box Office on 01782 717962)
Thursday 20 March, 10am and 1.45pm (schools performances)

Clough Hall School
Friday 21 March, 3.30pm (schools performance)

Keele University Chapel
Saturday 22 March, 1pm (public performance, tickets available from New Vic Box Office on 01782 717962)

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