A radical new edit of Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra

12 November 2012

Tarell Alvin McCraney's new edit of Shakespeare's epic play about power and romance premieres at Stratford-upon-Avon in 2013 before engagements in Miami and New York in 2014.

A new co-production by the Royal Shakespeare Company and US co-commissioning partners The Public Theater in New York and Miami's GableStage, will premiere in Stratford- upon-Avon before arriving in the US for engagements in Miami and New York. It is the latest RSC project presented in collaboration with The Ohio State University (OSU).

This follows the recent announcement that Julius Caesar, directed by RSC Artistic Director Gregory Doran, would play at BAM in Brooklyn and in Columbus, Ohio, presented by OSU and the Columbus Association for the Performing Arts in spring 2013.

Tarell Alvin McCraney's radical edit of Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra will premiere at the RSC's Swan Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon in November 2013, before arriving in the US to play at the Gusman Center for the Performing Arts in Miami in January 2014 and The Public Theater's Anspacher Theater in Manhattan, beginning in late January 2014.

As a former RSC writer in residence in 2010, McCraney worked with the Company on several projects throughout the year, including adapting and co-directing the RSC's 70 minute production of Hamlet for the Young People's Shakespeare tour, alongside director Bijan Sheibani, and writing a new play for the acting ensemble, American Trade, which performed at Hampstead Theatre in Spring 2011. During his residency, he was asked by then RSC Artistic Director, Michael Boyd, to create a radical new edit of Antony and Cleopatra. Tarell responded to Michael's challenge by stripping down the text, reordering the scene structure and relocating the play.

The cast for this new production will be a mix of actors from the UK and the US, directed by McCraney, who has set the play in the late 1700s against the backdrop of Saint-Domingue, on the eve of the Haitian Revolution against the French, bringing to light vivid historical parallels with the story of Antony and Cleopatra. Casting will take place in London, New York and Miami for the show (the actors will be appearing with the permission of Actors' Equity Association pursuant to an exchange program between American Equity and UK Equity).

As Tarell Alvin McCraney explains; ;Taking this equal parts tragedy equal parts history and setting it in the budding racial politics of the New World, a history ripe with pirating and battles over loyalty, we heighten the forbidden and passionate love affair between the conqueror, Antony, and colonized, Cleopatra.'

Gregory Doran, RSC Artistic Director, said: 'I am delighted that we are able to continue our collaborations with some of the most exciting theatre makers in the U.S. and follow the U.S. openings of Julius Caesar and Matilda The Musical in spring 2013 with this new co-production of Tarell's Antony and Cleopatra with GableStage and The Public Theater. Tarell was an inspirational writer in residence with us and I'm so pleased that we are able to work with him and such great American theatre companies on a new project, presented in collaboration with The Ohio State University, who've recently become our presenting partner in the U.S. I hope audiences on both sides of the Atlantic will enjoy this radical relook at a familiar story.'

Joseph Adler, GableStage Producing Artistic Director, said: 'GableStage is genuinely thrilled to be involved in a collaboration with two of the leading presenters of Shakespeare's plays in the world. With Miami's own Tarell Alvin McCraney at the helm, providing an innovative and exciting edit of Antony and Cleopatra, we believe this project will be a transformative event for South Florida Theatre. We are especially pleased that, in addition to performances for our subscribers and single-ticket buyers, we will be doing 10 special morning performances, enabling almost 20,000 Miami-Dade County Public School students to see this production free of charge.'

'This is a thrilling partnership of theaters, who have come together to support one of America's most exciting young artists as he takes on one of Shakespeare's most powerful plays,' said Public Theater Artistic Director Oskar Eustis. 'We know we will be working with Tarell for many years to come and we hope to continue to collaborate with our British colleagues in the RSC deep into the future; and we are delighted to welcome GableStage and Miami into our artistic lives. This is a partnership created for all the right reasons, and we expect wonderful results.'

Performance dates:

  • RSC's Swan Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon – 7 - 30 November 2013, press performance Wednesday 13 November.
  • GableStage at Gusman Center for the Performing Arts, Miami - student previews from 9 January, performances from 11 – 26 January 2014
  • The Public Theater's Anspacher Theater in New York – late January 2014

For further information:

About the RSC:

Liz Thompson, Director of Communications +44 1789 412667 liz.thompson@rsc.org.uk or

Philippa Harland, Head of Press +44 207 845 0512 philippa.harland@rsc.org.uk

About The Public Theater:

Candi Adams, Director of Communications +1 212-539-8680 cadams@publictheater.org

About GableStage:

Joseph Adler, Producing Artistic Director +1 305 446 1116 jadler@gablestage.org

RSC booking information:

Telephone: +44 (0)844 800 1110
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Full Members online - Monday 26 Nov
Full Members Phone - Wednesday 28 Nov
Associate Online - Monday 3 Dec
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Notes to Editors

About The Public Theater at Astor Place

Under the leadership of Artistic Director Oskar Eustis and Executive Director Patrick Willingham, The Public Theater is the only theater in New York that produces Shakespeare and the classics, musicals, contemporary and experimental pieces in equal measure. The Public continues the work of its visionary founder, Joe Papp, by acting as an advocate for the theater as an essential cultural force, and leading and framing dialogue on some of the most important issues of our day. Creating theater for one of the largest and most diverse audience bases in New York City for nearly 60 years, today the Company engages audiences in a variety of venues—including its landmark downtown home at Astor Place, which houses five theaters and Joe's Pub; the Delacorte Theater in Central Park, home to its beloved, free Shakespeare in the Park; and the Mobile Unit, which tours Shakespearean productions for underserved audiences throughout New York City's five boroughs. The Public's wide range of programming includes free Shakespeare in the Park, the bedrock of the Company's dedication to making theater accessible to all, new and experimental stagings at The Public at Astor Place, and a range of artist and audience development initiatives including its Public Forum series, which brings together theater artists and professionals from a variety of disciplines for discussions that shed light on social issues explored in Public productions. The Public Theater is located on property owned by the City of New York and receives annual support from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs. www.publictheater.org

About GableStage

GableStage is one of the leading theater companies in the Southeastern United States. The company produces a six-play mainstage season that has earned its reputation for presenting adventurous and challenging work by contemporary playwrights worldwide. Located in the historic Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables since 1999, GableStage is led by JOSEPH ADLER, Producing Artistic Director, now in his fifteenth season. Under his leadership, GableStage has been the recipient of 50 Carbonell Awards (South Florida's annual theater awards) and 175 Carbonell Nominations, as well as winning the Carbonell Award for Best Play 7 times and Best Musical Carbonell Award twice.

GableStage's touring productions of Shakespeare's plays have been seen by more than 1 million Miami-Dade County Public School students since the company was founded as Florida Shakespeare Theatre in 1979.

GableStage is a non-for-profit organization committed to maintaining a leading voice for theater in the community and proactively providing opportunities for South Florida's most gifted actors, directors, designers and technicians to develop their craft at the highest level.

About the Royal Shakespeare Company

One of the best known theatre companies in the world, the RSC connects people with Shakespeare and aims to produce bold, ambitious work. As well as Shakespeare, its repertoire includes classical plays and new work by contemporary writers. It is an ensemble company, with everyone from directors, writers and actors to production, technical and administrative staff playing their part in creating distinctive theatre.

The RSC's home is in Stratford-upon-Avon and in 2010 the Company reopened the Royal Shakespeare and Swan Theatres after a £112.8m transformation to bring actors and audiences closer together. The RSC also plays regularly in London, Newcastle upon Tyne and on tour across the UK and the world.

The RSC has a deeply held commitment to the development of theatre artists. It also runs a major education programme, working with schools and teachers to inspire a life-long love of Shakespeare in young people, and devises events and exhibitions for everyone to explore and participate in its work.

The RSC celebrated its 50th birthday in 2011 and, in 2012, produced the biggest celebration of Shakespeare ever staged, the World Shakespeare Festival, as part of London 2012 Festival for the Cultural Olympiad.

About The Ohio State University

Founded in 1870, The Ohio State University is a world-class public research university and the leading comprehensive teaching and research institution in the state of Ohio. With more than 63,000 students (including 56,000 in Columbus), a major medical center, 14 colleges, 80 centers, and 175 majors, the university offers its students tremendous breadth and depth of opportunity in the liberal arts, the sciences, and the professions.

The new collaboration between the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) and The Ohio State University (OSU) will support the origination of work in the UK by the RSC and will allow the Company to take more work to the US and continue co-productions with some of America's leading theatre makers and artists.

The collaboration also further expands the RSC's innovative active teaching approaches to Shakespeare in secondary education in the UK and the US and will also support OSU's aspiration to be a destination for the innovative teaching, research and performance of Shakespeare.

Ohio State supported the RSC's unprecedented, six-week New York residency in summer 2011, presented by Lincoln Center Festival and Park Avenue Armory. This autumn, joining again with and performing at Park Avenue Armory, members of the RSC's acting ensemble performed Young People's Shakespeare (YPS) performances of King Lear for under-served New York City students, along with a wide-ranging supporting program of workshops, before undertaking a two week residency at Ohio State.

Tarell Alvin McCraney Biography:

Tarell Alvin McCraney was the RSC/ CAPITAL CENTRE Warwick International Playwright in Residence in 2009-2011 and is now an artistic associate for the RSC. Born and raised in Miami, FL Tarell is an ensemble member of the Steppenwolf Theater Company and in residence at New Dramatist Center in New York. For the RSC he co-edited/directed the Young People's Shakespeare production of Hamlet, and wrote a new full-length play for the RSC's acting ensemble, American Trade. His other plays include Choir Boy, Wig Out, The Brother/Sister Plays (a trilogy comprised of: In the Red and Brown Water, The Brothers Size and Marcus; Or the Secret of Sweet) and Head of Passes, which will receive its world premiere in 2013 in Chicago. Tarell was the recipient of London's Evening Standard Award for Most Promising Playwright 2008, the inaugural New York Times Outstanding Playwright Award 2009 and the 2009 Steinberg Award.

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