Jasper Britton to play Marquis De Sade

17 August 2011

Jasper Britton returns to the RSC to play the Marquis de Sade in a new production of Marat/Sade.

The Persecution and Assassination of Marat as performed by the Inmates of the Asylum of Charenton under the direction of the Marquis de SadeMarat/Sade
By Peter Weiss

English version by Geoffrey Skelton
Verse adaptation by Adrian Mitchell

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

RSC 50 Theatre of Cruelty Events: 20 – 22 October and 4 November

Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon, CV37 6BB
Box Office 0844 800 1110

Anthony Neilson directs a new production of Marat/Sade – or to give it its full title – The Persecution and Assassination of Marat as performed by the Inmates of the Asylum of Charenton under the direction of the Marquis de Sade. This extraordinary play has been programmed in the newly transformed Royal Shakespeare Theatre as part of the RSC's 50th Birthday celebrations.

The RSC's 1964 production of Peter Weiss' play, directed by Peter Brook, still 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. Peter Ulrich Weiss wrote the play in 1963 and the original German version was premiered in West Berlin in 1964.

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

The play, a seminal example of the Theatre of Cruelty, is set in post revolutionary France in which 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.

Arsher Ali, who plays Puck in Nancy Meckler's A Midsummer Night's Dream, will play Jean Paul-Marat. Jasper Britton (Marquis de Sade) and Golda Rosheuvel make a welcome return to the company.

Jasper Britton's previous RSC work includes Petruchio in Gregory Doran's productions of The Taming of the Shrew and The Tamer Tamed (2003/4) and Golda was in the company in 2006 in Antony and Cleopatra, Julius Caesar and The Tempest. Imogen Doel plays Charlotte Corday, a role originally played by Glenda Jackson in 1964.

The cast also includes: Maya Barcot, Liz Crowther, Kammy Darweish, Nicholas Day, Christopher Ettridge, Lisa Hammond, Lanre Malaolu, Nathaniel Martello-White, Andrew Melville, Harry Myers, Theo Ogundipe, Oliver Rix and Amanda Wilkin.

Anthony Neilson's previous directing work for the RSC includes his own play God in Ruins at the Soho Theatre in 2007, The Big Lie at the Latitude Festival and The Drunks by the Durnenkov brothers in 2009. His other theatre work includes The Wonderful World of Dissocia for the National Theatre of Scotland and most recently Realism for Soho Theatre. His film and television work includes the award-winning film The Debt Collector and episodes of Spooks for the BBC.

Joining Anthony on the creative team are French costume and set designer Garance Marneur and composer and Ud player Khyam Allami. Movement is by Anna Morrissey, lighting by Chahine Yavroyan and the company dramaturg is Jeanie O'Hare.

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

For regional enquiries and press tickets please contact Dean Asker on dean.asker@rsc.org.uk or 01789 412660

Notes to Editors:

Theatre of Cruelty Events, part of RSC50, an ongoing celebration of the RSC's 50th Birthday:

Public Events

Saturday 22 October
10am,A Cruel Morning with Anthony Neilson in the Royal Shakespeare Theatre – tickets: £8
Fresh from the opening of Marat/Sade, Anthony Neilson will discuss the significance of the Theatre of Cruelty and the legacy it leaves in British Theatre.

2pm, The Hang of the Gaol by Howard Barker – a script in hand performance in The Ashcroft Room (above the Swan Theatre) – tickets £8

Howard Barker's bruising play is about corruption in a British prison, an exposing study in guilt and collusion which was first peformed by the RSC at the Warehouse Theatre in London in 1978. Cast to be announced.

Sunday 30 October
11.30am, Softcops by Caryl Churchill – a script in hand performance at in the Royal Shakespeare Theatre – tickets £10
Softcops is a rarely performed play about the criminal justice system which was premiered by the RSC in 1984 in The Pit. It was inspired by Michel Foucault's theoretical book Discipline and Punish and explores the ways governments seek to depoliticise subversive acts. Cast to be announced.

Education Events

Understanding Artaud
20 October – Artaud as a practitioner
21 October – How to approach text and devising from an Artaudian perspective

Teaching Artaud
4 November – a practical one day course for teachers introducing students to the work of Artaud

More information on www.rsc.org.uk/education

Background to Theatre of Cruelty
During the early 1930s, the French dramatist and actor Antonin Artaud put forth a theory for a Surrealist theatre called the Theatre of Cruelty. Based on ritual and fantasy, this form of theatre launched an attack on the spectators' subconscious in an attempt to release deep-rooted fears and anxieties that are normally suppressed, forcing people to view themselves and their natures without the shield of civilisation.

Only after World War II did the Theatre of Cruelty achieve a more tangible form, first in the French director Jean-Louis Barrault's adaptation of Franz Kafka's Prozess (The Trial), produced in 1947, and later through the plays of Jean Genet and Fernando Arrabal. The movement was particularly popular during the 1960s, in part due to the success of Peter Brook's 1964 production of Peter Weiss's Marat/Sade for the Royal Shakespeare Company.

The original RSC production of Marat/Sade opened at the Aldwych Theatre in London on 20 August 1964.
Directed by Peter Brook, the cast included Patrick Magee as the Marquis de Sade, Clive Revill as Marat, Glenda Jackson as Charlotte Corday, Timothy West as the schoolmaster, Ian Richardson as Herald, Michael Williams as Kokol and Elizabeth Spriggs as Rossignol.
The 1967 film version was also directed by Peter Brook.


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

Date of issue: 17 August 2011

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