Michael Boyd announces his final season as Artistic Director

Tuesday 10 July 2012









Michael Boyd programmes his last season for the RSC, inviting some of the UK's most talented directors, writers and artists to present Shakespeare, a Jacobean classic never performed at the RSC and world premieres of two new plays by Mark Ravenhill and Tanika Gupta through the summer of 2013. 

The Summer 2013 season builds on the legacy of the World Shakespeare Festival and the RSC's winter programme in Stratford-upon-Avon, which examines the rest of the world in Shakespeare's lifetime, with premieres of The Orphan of Zhao, Boris Godunov and A Life of Galileo as well as a double bill of The Merry Wives of Windsor and a new adaptation of The Mouse and his Child this Christmas.

Royal Shakespeare Theatre

The season opens in January with The Winter's Tale, directed by Lucy Bailey, following her acclaimed production of The Taming of the Shrew, with Lisa Dillon, which played in Stratford and on tour earlier this year.  This stand-alone show plays a straight run before going on a six week UK tour (venues and dates to be announced later in the autumn).

The RST then returns to repertoire with a single company cross-cast in three Shakespeare plays. 

RSC Associate Director, David Farr, directs Jonathan Slinger in the title role of Hamlet. After their successful collaboration during the World Shakespeare Festival in Twelfth Night and The Tempest, Jonathan Slinger takes on the eponymous Dane following acclaim for his recent roles as Malvolio and Prospero and last year as Macbeth for Michael Boyd and as Lenny in Farr's production of The Homecoming.

Maria Aberg, whose high energy production of King John plays in Stratford this summer as part of the 'Nations at War' trilogy for the World Shakespeare Festival, directs Shakespeare's pastoral comedy As You Like It.

And Nancy Meckler will direct the rarely performed All's Well That Ends Well, as the third Shakespeare in the repertoire.  Nancy's most recent productions for the company include the world premiere of Helen Edmundson's The Heresy of Love in the Swan earlier this year and A Midsummer Night's Dream in 2011.

The Swan Theatre

Acclaimed playwright Tanika Gupta makes her RSC debut with the world premiere of her new play The Empress, which will open the 2013 season in the Swan Theatre as another stand alone production. Though Empress of India, Queen Victoria never visited her subjects there, but they came to London in their thousands. Gupta's new play reveals the extraordinary story of the Queen's growing attachment to one of her Indian manservants inside the royal household amidst the beginnings of a revolution in the streets of London outside.  Emma Rice, joint Artistic Director of Kneehigh, directs, having recently worked with Tanika on Wah!Wah! Girls as part of World Stages London.

A single company then takes on three plays, opening with Shakespeare's gory revenge tragedy, Titus Andronicus, directed by Michael Fentiman, in his RSC directorial debut after two previous seasons as Assistant Director to Rupert Goold and Michael Boyd and his recent collaboration as co-director with Rupert on The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe.

Next is a classic which has never been performed at the RSC.  Sean Foley directs A Mad World My Masters by Thomas Middleton, his first production for the RSC. One of the Jacobean plays known as the City Comedies and first performed in 1603, the play casts a satirical eye over the amoral and often ruthless battle of wits to survive life in the urban metropolis of early 17th Century London. The RSC has only ever mounted four Middleton plays – the last being in 2006 with Laurence Boswell's production of Women Beware Women with Penelope Wilton.

The final production in the Swan season will be a new play by RSC Playwright in Residence, Mark Ravenhill, written as a response to Voltaire's piercing satire on buoyant optimism, Candide, which was first published in 1759, amid much scandal, thanks to its searing take on religion, government and greed.  The production is directed by Lyndsey Turner, Associate Director at Sheffield Crucible and The Gate Theatre, who has recently directed Posh at the Royal Court and subsequently in the West End.

Michael Boyd said: “Our transformed Royal Shakespeare Theatre has really got into its stride this year, setting the pattern for how we celebrate Shakespeare's work.  We've created a space which is perfectly balanced on the tightrope between the Renaissance and now and truly does bring the actors closer to the audience.  The last twelve months, in which we've celebrated the RSC's 50th birthday in Stratford, opened the most awarded West End musical in history, and launched the World Shakespeare Festival right across the UK, point to the healthiest possible future for theatre. I'm very proud to be programming my last season in our new space with many of the theatre artists who have contributed to its success in the last year, before handing over to Greg Doran who will take the Company on to its next decade. 

“We open 2013 in the RST, by inviting Lucy Bailey, whose passionate Taming of the Shrew wowed audiences earlier this year, to return with a solus production of The Winter's Tale, which will also tour.  A new ensemble will then join us to perform three more Shakespeare plays.  Jonathan Slinger and RSC Associate Director, David Farr, who have worked together so brilliantly on the RSC's 'What Country Friends is This?' season, take on Hamlet, with Jonathan in the title role.  Maria Aberg directs the tough, lyrical, and exquisite, As You Like It, fresh from her powerfully energetic and acclaimed production of King John, and Nancy Meckler, who directed Helen Edmundson's terrific new play The Heresy of Love earlier this year, stages All's Well That Ends Well, which we've not performed since Greg's production in 2004.  

“In the Swan, we celebrate the classics and new work, starting with a world premiere of Tanika Gupta's new play, The Empress.  Set in the last 14 years of Queen Victoria's reign, this extraordinary story explores not only a deep relationship between the old Queen and her Indian servant, but shines a light on the fomenting revolutionary sentiments amongst many of her subjects.  A second ensemble then plays Titus Andronicus, directed by Michael Fentiman, followed by A Mad World My Masters by Thomas Middleton.  Sean Foley will direct this Jacobean comedy in its first ever production at the RSC.  Lyndsey Turner then works with the company, directing the world premiere of Mark Ravenhill's new play, written whilst he's been with us as Writer in Residence and inspired by Voltaire's Enlightenment classic Candide.”   

Video of Michael Boyd talking about the new season: http://www.rsc.org.uk/about-us/updates/michael-boyd-announces-2013-season.aspx'

Vikki Heywood said: “The RSC is on great form as we prepare to hand over to the new leadership team.  We've had a terrific first full year in our new home – and will be reporting on our results formally at our September AGM, but suffice to say we've welcomed more than 500,000 visitors (as well as those who've bought tickets to see a show) through the doors in the last twelve months.  With both main houses fully open now, we increased the number of seats available by almost 50% and have played to 84% capacity in Stratford (89% across all locations) in 2011/12.

“Since April, we have celebrated Shakespeare all over the country with artists from every imaginable place in the world, staging more than 70 productions, as well as events and exhibitions, for the World Shakespeare Festival.  More than 70 partners have joined us with a million tickets on sale.  The scale and reach of the Festival has been extraordinary, and we are only half way through.  The RSC alone has already sold more than 250,000 tickets. 

“We are delighted that Matilda The Musical continues to win praise from critics and audiences alike, as we begin our preparations for a Broadway transfer in Spring 2013, with our co-producing partners, the Dodgers.  Since opening in October at the Cambridge, we've played to more than 300,000 people at an average capacity of 95%.  Following our record-breaking seven Olivier awards in April, we've played to 100% houses and advance sales for the Olympic summer period are very healthy. 

“We know it's a tough climate for everyone at the moment, and we are very grateful to our audiences and our supporters for continuing to back our work.”


RSC Priority Plus Booking                                     Friday 14 September 2012

RSC Full Members web booking                           Monday 17 September 2012

Full Members telephone booking                           Wednesday 19 September 2012

Associate Members postal and web booking        Monday 1 October 2012

Associate Members telephone booking                 Wednesday 3 October 2012

Public Booking opens                                         Monday 15 October 2012

Website and social media


Follow the RSC on Twitter: www.twitter.com/theRSC  @theRSC

Follow the RSC Press Office on Twitter: www.twitter.com/RSCPress  @RSCPress

And on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/theRSC 


Images of Michael Boyd and Vikki Heywood are available on request from the RSC Press Office or www.epo-online.com  

For further information:

Liz Thompson, Director of Communications 
Tel: 01789 412667 or 07717 297 181

Philippa Harland, Head of Press
Tel: 0207 845 0512 or 07887 837 900

Notes to Editors:

Watch Michael Boyd talk about the new season on http://www.rsc.org.uk/about-us/updates/michael-boyd-announces-2013-season.aspx

Education and events programming for 2013 will be announced at a later date.

Gregory Doran and Catherine Mallyon officially take over the roles of Artistic Director and Executive Director on 14 September 2012 at the RSC's AGM in Stratford-upon-Avon at 2.30pm.


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

RSC workshops, conferences and professional development courses for students & teachers are generously supported by THE CLORE DUFFIELD FOUNDATION

The RSC British Writer in Residence is generously supported by the Columbia Foundation Fund of The Capital Community Foundation

The World Shakespeare Festival (WSF) is a celebration of Shakespeare as the world's playwright, produced by the Royal Shakespeare Company, in an unprecedented collaboration with leading UK and international arts organisations, and with Globe to Globe, a major international programme produced by Shakespeare's Globe. It runs from 12 April to November and forms part of London 2012 Festival which is the culmination of the Cultural Olympiad, bringing leading artists from all over the world together in a UK-wide festival in the summer of 2012. For further details www.worldshakespearefestival.org.uk

The World Shakespeare Festival is supported by BP, as Founding Presenting Partner, and by the National Lottery through the Olympic Lottery Distributor and Arts Council England.

Matilda The Musical is supported by Holiday Inn.

Director biographies:


RSC: King John, The Gods Weep, Days of Significance (Director), The Winter's Tale, Pericles (Associate Director), The Crucible (Assistant Director)


Theatre includes: Belongings (Hampstead/Trafalgar Studios); Love and Money (Malmo Stadsteater, Sweden); The Chairs (Bath Theatre Royal); Amerika, Krieg Der Bilder, Die Koperer (Stadsteater Mainz, Germany); State of Emergency (Gate, London); Mark Ravenhill's Crime and Punishment (National Theatre); Gustav III (National Theatre, Sweden); Alaska/DC Moore (Royal Court).

Maria trained on the National Theatre Studio Directors' Course in 2005 and was shortlisted for the Arts Foundation Theatre Directing Award in 2008.


RSC: Julius Caesar (Stratford/Lincoln Center, New York), The Taming of the Shrew (Stratford and tour)

THIS SEASON: The Winter's Tale

Theatre includes: The Beggar's Opera (Regent's Park Theatre); Fabrication, Snake in the Grass, Kingdom of Earth (The Print Room); Macbeth, Timon of Athens, Titus Andronicus, As You Like It, (Shakespeare's Globe); The Night Season, Baby Doll (National Theatre); Private Lives, Glass Eels, Comfort Me with Apples (Hampstead); The Lady from the Sea (Birmingham Rep); Don't Look Now (Sheffield Crucible/Lyric Hammersmith); Tonight at 8:30, Stairs to the Roof (Chichester Festival Theatre); The Postman Always Rings Twice (West End/West Yorkshire Playhouse); Twelfth Night, A Midsummer Night's Dream (Royal Exchange).

Opera includes: Jenu˚fa (ENO); Cheryoumushki 1958 (Lyric Hammersmith); Noyes Fludde, Triptych, Mary of Egypt (Aldeburgh Festival); adaptation of Pasolini's Teorema (Maggio Musicale Florence/Munich Biennale).

Lucy was Co-Artistic Director of the string ensemble, the gogmagogs (1995–2006) and is currently Co-Artistic Director of the new London venue, The Print Room.


RSC: Associate Director. The Homecoming, Coriolanus, Julius Caesar, Night of the Soul, King Lear, The Winter's Tale, Silence.  His play The Heart of Robin Hood was the RSC Christmas Show 2011.


THEATRE includes: The Odyssey, Metamorphosis, Water (with Filter Theatre); The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui, The Birthday Party (Lyric Hammersmith); Tamburlaine (Barbican); The UN Inspector (National Theatre); Paradise Lost, Twelfth Night, A Midsummer Night's Dream (TMA Best Director Award. Bristol Old Vic).

PLAYWRITING includes: The Nativity (Young Vic); The Danny Crowe Show (Bush); Elton John's Glasses (Watford Palace/West End); Crime and Punishment in Dalston (Arcola); Night of the Soul, The Queen Must Die, Ruckus in the Garden (National Theatre Connections).

TELEVISION: David writes regularly for the television series Spooks.

FILM WRITING includes: Hanna directed by Joe Wright (2011)

From 2005 to 2008 David was the Artistic Director of the Lyric Theatre, Hammersmith. He was joint Artistic Director of Bristol Old Vic from 2002 to 2005 and Artistic Director of the Gate Theatre, London, from 1995 to 1998. He has also directed at The National Theatre, The Young Vic and the National Theatre of Czech Republic.


RSC: Ahasverus (as Director), A Tender Thing (as Assistant Director) and Lincoln Center Festival: As You Like It, Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet (as Assistant Director).

THIS SEASON: Titus Andronicus

THEATRE includes: Directing: Spoonface Steinberg (Clwyd/Greenwich/Glasgow Citizens/tour); Blue/Orange (Cockpit); Guy (Pleasance); East (Basingstoke/tour); Ajax (Cyprus tour) Double Falsehood (Nottingham). 

Michael was previously Associate Director at the Playhouse Theatre in Harlow. Credits include: Romeo and Juliet, The Wizard of Oz and numerous Christmas pantomimes. Richard III, Messiah: Scenes from a Crucifixion, The Dumb Waiter, Bouncers.

Michael is currently Artistic Director of Beggars and Kings touring company.


RSC: Debut season

THIS SEASON: A Mad World My Masters

Theatre includes: The Ladykillers (Liverpool Playhouse), The Painkiller (Belfast Lyric), Armstrong and Miller Live Tour (Toff Media), The Real Inspector Hound and The Critic, I Am Shakespeare (Chichester Festival Theatre), Joan Rivers: A Work in Progress (Matin Witts Productions), Evolution with Nina Conti (Nina Conti), A Liability (Royal Court), Pinter's People (Mick Perrin Productions), Hysteria (Birmingham Repertory Theatre), Ducktastic (Albery Theatre), The Play What I Wrote (Lyceum Theatre, Wyndhams), Bewilderness (Hammersmith Lyric Theatre), Mr Puntila and his Man Matti (Almeida and Albery Theatres), Do You Come Here Often? (Vaudeville Theatre), Stop Calling Me Vernon (Lyric Theatre and tour), Hold Me Down (Purcell Rooms)

Film includes: Act Without Words, Jimmy Spud

Television includes: Spine Chillers, Wild West, Happiness, The Fitz, People Like Us, Brass Eye

Radio includes:  The Remains of Foley and McColl, The Goldfish Bowl


RSC: Debut Season

THIS SEASON: The Empress

Theatre includes: Skeleton (Soho Theatre during residency 1997); Translation of Bertolt Brecht's The Good Woman of Setzuan (NT Education Tour); The Waiting Room (National Theatre, Winner of John Whiting Award 2000), Sanctuary (National Theatre, during residency 2002), Inside Out (Clean Break 2002); Fragile Land (Hampstead Theatre; nominated for Olivier and EMMA Awards 2003); Hobson's Choice (Young Vic nominated for Olivier Award 2003); Gladiator Games (Sheffield Crucible and Theatre Royal Stratford East 2005/6); Sugar Mummies (Royal Court, 2006), Catch (Group Play for Royal Court, 2006), White Boy (National Youth Theatre, Soho Theatre, 2007), Meet the Mukherjees (Bolton Octagon 2007)

Tanika's adaptation of Charles Dickens' Great Expectations for Watford Palace Theatre/English Touring Theatre; Wah!Wah! Girls (Sadlers Wells/Theatre Royal Stratford East) was part of the ' London World Stages' and will reopen in September 2012 at Theatre Royal Stratford East.

TV includes: Eastenders, The Bill, All About Me, Grange Hill, Flight, Banglatown Banquet

Radio includes: 30 plays for BBC Radio. Her adaptation of Ibsen's A Doll's House, set in India will be aired on BBC Radio 3 in September 2012.

Tanika is the recipient of the Asian Woman of Achievement Award (2003), Amnesty International Award (2005) for her radio play Chitra and was included in the Queen's Honours list and awarded an MBE (2008) for 'Services to Drama'


RSC: Romeo and Juliet, The Comedy of Errors, House of Desires, A Midsummer Night's Dream

THIS SEASON: All's Well that Ends Well

THEATRE includes: Nancy is an Artistic Director for Shared Experience, whose productions tour extensively in the UK and abroad. These include Anna Karenina, A Passage to India, Heartbreak House, The Bacchae and Mother Courage.

Nancy was the first woman to direct at the National Theatre (Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?).

As Associate Director for Hampstead Theatre productions have included Uncle Vanya, Buried Child, and West End transfers of Dennis Potter's Sufficient Carbohydrate and Pam Gems' Dusa, Fish, Stas and Vi. She has also been Associate Director at Leicester Haymarket and has worked for the Royal Court, Young Vic, Women's Playhouse Trust and directed Antony Sher's play I.D. at the Almeida Theatre.

FILM includes: Sister My Sister and Alive and Kicking (Audience Award for Best Film, London Film Festival)


RSC:  Writer in Residence 2012

THIS SEASON: A New Play in response to Voltaire's Candide

Theatre includes: Mother Clap's Molly House (National Theatre), Product (Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh), The Cut (Donmar Warehouse, London), Citizenship (National Theatre), pool (no water) (Lyric Hammersmith), Shoot/Get Treasure/Repeat (Edinburgh Festival), Over There (Royal Court / Schaubühne, Berlin), A Life in Three Acts, co-written and performed with Bette Bourne (Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh / Konninklijke Schouwburg, The Hague / Soho Theatre, London and St Ann's Warehouse, New York), Nation adapted from the Terry Pratchett novel (National Theatre), Ten Plagues, a libretto for a new opera by Conor Mitchell

(Royal Court / Traverse Theatre), Ghost Story (Playhouse: Live, Sky Arts, Riverside Studios) and The Coronation of Poppea a liberetto co-written with Alex Silverman (OperaUpClose, Kings Head Theatre).

Mark is an internationally acclaimed playwright whose first full-length play, Shopping and Fucking, opened at the Royal Court Theatre Upstairs in 1996 and is currently under commission to the RSC and Hampstead.


RSC: Cymbeline (with Kneehigh Theatre as part of the Complete Works Festival), Don John (in association with the RSC and Bristol Old Vic)

THIS SEASON: The Empress

Emma is the Joint Artistic Director of Kneehigh Theatre. She has directed for Kneehigh The Red Shoes (2002 Theatrical Management Association [TMA] Theatre Award for Best Director), The Wooden Frock (2004 TMA Theatre Award nomination for Best Touring Production), The Bacchae (2005 TMA Theatre Award for Best Touring Production), Tristan & Yseult (2006 TMA Theatre Award nomination for Best Touring Production), A Matter of Life and Death (Royal National Theatre production in association with Kneehigh Theatre), Rapunzel (in association with Battersea Arts Centre) and Brief Encounter (tour and West End; Studio 54, Broadway  a David Pugh and Dafydd Rogers Production in association with Kneehigh Theatre)

Emma was nominated for the 2009 Olivier Award for Best Director for Brief Encounter.


RSC:  debut season

This season: A New Play in response to Voltaire's Candide

Directing credits include: Philadelphia, Here I Come! (Donmar), Posh, Our Private Life, A Miracle and Contractions (Royal Court);The Way Of The World and Alice (Sheffield Crucible); Edgar And Annabel and There is a War (National Theatre); Joseph K and Nocturnal (Gate); My Romantic History (Traverse, Bush, Sheffield Theatres) and The Lesson (Arcola).

Lyndsey is an Associate Director at the Sheffield Crucible and The Gate Theatre.

Contact us & FAQs

Ticket Hotline

0844 800 1110
Mon-Sat, 10am-6pm

Email newsletter

Sign up to email updates for the latest RSC news:

RSC Members

Already an RSC Member or Supporter? Sign in here.

Teaching Shakespeare