RSC announces winter season artistic programme

24 March 2011

Highlights
  • RSC 50th birthday celebrations continue – including more play readings and events exploring the Company's back catalogue of new work
  • The Heart of Robin Hood, first family show on the new Royal Shakespeare Theatre stage - written by RSC Associate Director David Farr and directed by Gisli Örn Gardarsson for Christmas 2011
  • The Taming of the Shrew, directed by Lucy Bailey, opens in Stratford then tours nationwide
  • World premiere of David Edgar's new play, Written on the Heart – directed by RSC Chief Associate Director, Gregory Doran, as part of 400th anniversary of the King James Bible
  • World premiere of The Heresy of Love - by Helen Edmundson, directed by Nancy Meckler, inspired by the life of Spanish Golden Age playwright Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz
  • Measure for Measure, directed by RSC Associate Director Roxana Silbert in her first Shakespeare production for the RSC
  • New small scale touring model - Young People's Shakespeare production of Hamlet tours schools and local venues, with day and evening performances through the autumn

The Royal Shakespeare Company continues its 50th birthday celebrations with world premieres of three new plays, two new Shakespeare productions, a major events programme exploring the legacy of the last five decades, and two national tours – one to large scale theatres and one to schools and local venues, playing to children in the daytime and their families in the evenings.


Royal Shakespeare Theatre
The first large-scale family show in the new Royal Shakespeare Theatre (RST) is The Heart of Robin Hood, written by RSC Associate Director David Farr and directed by Gisli Örn Gardarsson, co-founder of Iceland's Vesturport Theatre. This swashbuckling new production opens in November 2011 and plays in a straight run over Christmas (17 November – 7 January 2012). It tells the tale of the notorious Robin Hood and his band of outlaws, who rob from the rich, but fail to share with the poor. It is down to Marion to convince Robin to listen to his heart if they are to save the country from the wicked King John who plots to steal his brother's crown.

The Taming of the Shrew opens on the RST stage in January (19 January – 18 February 2012) before embarking on a six week national UK tour. Lucy Bailey, whose acclaimed production of Julius Caesar joins the repertoire at the RSC's residency in New York this summer, directs this sometimes controversial romantic comedy, exploring love and sexual politics through Petruchio's attempts to tame Katharina to a submissive life of domesticity. Other venues and dates to be announced later this spring.


Swan Theatre
Meanwhile, in the Swan Theatre from October, award-winning playwright David Edgar's play Written on the Heart has its world premiere (27 October 2011 – 10 March 2012). A powerful examination of the story behind the King James Bible, which celebrates its 400th anniversary this year, the play explores the legacy of the earliest translators who died for their wish to see a ploughboy read the word of God and the dilemma of Lancelot Andrewes, King James's leading translator, as he confronts the betrayal of his youthful religious ideals for the sake of preferment and peace in a divided society. RSC Chief Associate, Greg Doran, directs, following his production of Cardenio, Shakespeare's lost play 're-imagined', which plays the Swan Theatre this spring. Written on the Heart plays in repertoire with Shakespeare's Measure for Measure and The Heresy of Love until March 2011.

Measure for Measure is RSC Associate Director, Roxana Silbert's first Shakespeare production for the RSC (17 November 2011 – 10 March 2012), following her critically-acclaimed production of Dunsinane by David Greig in 2010, shortly to be performed in the Swan Theatre as part of a National Theatre of Scotland tour, and Little Eagles by Rona Munro which premieres at Hampstead Theatre this spring. In this darkly fascinating tale which puts moral and religious double standards on trial, Deputy Angelo is given free reign over Vienna and launches a crusade against loose morals, but makes an indecent proposal of his own when a condemned man's sister pleads for a pardon.

The Heresy of Love completes the season (2 February – 9 March 2012). Nancy Meckler directs the premiere of Helen Edmundson's new play, inspired by the life of Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz, the writer of House of Desires, which Nancy directed as part of the RSC's Spanish Golden Age season in 2004. Sor Juana's gift for writing is celebrated by the court, but her success creates fear and jealousy within the church. Her life of faith and learning crumbles around her as the things she holds dear are cruelly destroyed. Helen Edmundson adapted Coram Boy for the National Theatre and has written extensively for Shared Experience. Nancy Meckler's most recent work for the RSC includes her production of A Midsummer Night's Dream which opens in the Royal Shakespeare Theatre this summer.

Song of Songs – inspired by the rich and erotic verse of Song of Solomon in the King James Bible and devised by RSC Head of Movement Struan Leslie, this piece will be created with members of the ensemble on the Swan Theatre stage for three performances only in February 2012.

All casting details to be announced.


RSC 50 events
The rolling programme of RSC 50 play readings, talks and special events continues. Further highlights include an on stage discussion with Willy Russell on Educating Rita, a celebration of the RSC's musicals, past and present, Howard Davies in conversation about the creation of the Warehouse, a screening of Peter Brook's production of US, a celebration of Nicholas Nickleby as well as David Edgar's original work and a birthday party for Harold Pinter.

Playwrights Tanika Gupta and Mark Ravenhill each host a weekend exploring the RSC's back catalogue of plays and there will be a play reading of Christopher Hampton's Les Liaisons Dangereuses.


Young People's Shakespeare tour
From September 2011, the RSC's current ensemble will take its YPS Shakespeare production of Hamlet, adapted by Tarell Alvin McCraney and Bijan Shebani and directed by Tarell, on a six week tour to schools and local theatre venues, who will work together to programme a mixture of daytime and evening performances.

Since 2008, through its Young People's Shakespeare series, the RSC has invited directors and writers to make surprising, challenging and entertaining work for children aged 8 and over, giving them a great first experience of Shakespeare. The productions have proved enormously popular and have played in Stratford, London, Newcastle and in local schools in the Midlands and outer London boroughs, which are part of the RSC's 400 strong Learning and Performance Network (LPN). The tour is the culmination of a long held ambition by the RSC to develop and deepen its relationships with schools by touring work into them, playing to children and young people during the daytime and their families in the evening.

The tour will include:

  • w/c 5 September West Midlands – daytime performances in Learning and Performance Networkhub and cluster schools across the West Midlands and in The Clore Learning Centre
  • w/c 12 September Cornwall - Hall for Cornwall in partnership with Brannell School
  • w/c 19 September - RIO in collaboration with Theatre Royal Plymouth
  • w/c 26 September Newcastle - Newcastle Theatre Royal in collaboration with schools and venues in the North East
  • w/c 3 October Rotherham - Inspire Rotherham are promoting the tour to local primary schools and Magna Science and Adventure Centre
  • w/c 10 October Liverpool - Liverpool Everyman & Playhouse in collaboration with local schools

Michael Boyd, RSC Artistic Director, said:
“It's been an extraordinary first few months in our new home. Actors and audiences alike have warmed to the new spaces in ways we had hardly dared dream of. We're looking forward to the first new productions designed specifically for the new Royal Shakespeare Theatre and improved Swan Theatre stages which open our 50th Birthday Season.

“The celebrations continue throughout the year with our winter season which we announce today. I'm especially proud that we've been able to put new work at its heart – by revealing hidden riches of our back catalogue and by new commissions. Great writers and directors have always been at the core of the company, shaping our future while being inspired by the classical repertoire, and this season is no exception.

“Our Christmas family show The Heart of Robin Hood is written by RSC Associate Director, David Farr. His dark and witty take on the legend of Robin Hood turns the tables on Robin and puts Marion centre stage. Gisli Örn Gardarsson directs for us for the first time. We follow up with The Taming of the Shrew, directed by Lucy Bailey, whose production of Julius Caesar made such an impact in Stratford and at the Roundhouse.

We explore themes of faith and passion in the Swan with two world premieres and Shakespeare's Measure for Measure, directed by RSC Associate Director, Roxana Silbert, whose extraordinary production of David Greig's Dunsinane won such acclaim last year.

“RSC Chief Associate, Greg Doran, will direct David Edgar's new play Written on the Heart, which concludes the 400th birthday year celebrations for the King James Bible by exploring the politics of religion and the complex story behind the Bible's translation into English. David's long history of work for the Company includes Pentecost, Destiny, Maydays and his unequalled adaptation of Nicholas Nickleby.

“Helen Edmundson has been inspired by the Spanish Golden Age nun and playwright Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz, to write The Heresy of Love, which explores devotion and jealousy deep in the church and court in 17th century Mexico. Nancy Meckler directs, following her production of A Midsummer Night's Dream for us this summer.

“Beyond Stratford, we will take The Taming of the Shrew on a national tour and we are also putting young people at the centre of our ambitions for the future with plans to take our Young People's Shakespeare (YPS) production of Hamlet to schools and regional theatres in a unique new touring model.

“We understand, better than anyone, the power of live Shakespeare to inspire young minds. This new collaboration with some of our Learning and Performance Network schools and regional theatres gives young people up and down the country the chance to watch live theatre during school hours and bring their families to enjoy performances in the evening.

“In these challenging times, collaboration is more important than ever. We will continue to share skills and expertise wherever we can with the amateur sector and other smaller companies and we will support artists' R&D through our RSC Studio projects, as we plan one of the biggest collaborations in our history, the World Shakespeare Festival, in 2012.”

Vikki Heywood, RSC Executive Director, said:
“The extraordinary public and private investment in our new home is already paying dividends. We have had a great response to the new building and the box office advance for our summer season has been the busiest ever at the RSC. We took over £2.5m in advance bookings during our priority booking period and our advance now stands at £3.6m.

“We have already welcomed 160,000 day visitors through our doors since November and 53,000 people have enjoyed one of our re-opening events or returning productions. We have served over 15,500 people in our restaurant and sold tickets for over 23,000 tower visits and 10,000 theatre tours.

“We will continue to keep ourselves in good shape for the future, offering something for people to enjoy throughout the day seven days a week.

“Our summer residency in New York, presented by Lincoln Center Festival and Park Avenue Armory, in association with The Ohio State University, gives us a golden opportunity to show potential visitors and investors the high quality of work they can expect from British arts organisations and allows us to fly the flag for the international cultural collaborations we are planning with the World Shakespeare Festival.”


Production information


Royal Shakespeare Theatre

The Heart of Robin Hood
By RSC Associate Director David Farr
Directed by Gisli Örn Gardarsson
Previews from 18 November 2011
Press Night: Thursday 1 December 2011, 7pm
Last performance 7 January 2011


The Taming of the Shrew
By William Shakespeare
Directed by Lucy Bailey
Previews from 19 January 2012
Press Night: Wednesday 25 January 2012, 7pm
Last performance 18 February 2012

Swan Theatre

Written on the Heart
An RSC Commission and world premiere
By David Edgar
Directed by RSC Chief Associate Director Gregory Doran
Previews from 27 October 2011
Press Night: Wednesday 2 November, 7pm
Last performance 10 March 2012


Measure for Measure
By William Shakespeare
Directed by RSC Associate Director Roxana Silbert
Previews from 17 November 2011
Press Night: Wednesday 23 November 2011, 7pm
Last performance 10 March 2012


The Heresy of Love
An RSC Commission and world premiere
By Helen Edmundson
Directed by Nancy Meckler
Previews from 2 February 2012
Press Night: Wednesday 8 February 2012, 7pm
Last performance 9 March 2012


Biographies


David Edgar
David Edgar has been writing professionally for the theatre since 1972. He began his long-term relationship with the RSC in 1976 with his award-winning play about the rise of the National Front, Destiny, which transferred from The Other Place to the Aldwych. His other work for the Company includes The Jail Diary of Albie Sachs, Maydays, Pentecost and The Prisoner's Dilemma. His multi award-winning adaptation of Nicholas Nickleby was performed at the Aldwych in 1980 and on Broadway in 1981, and was televised by Channel Four.

He has also written extensively for the National Theatre (Entertaining Strangers, The Shape of the Table, Albert Speer and Playing with Fire) and for many repertory theatres, as well as for television, radio and film. He founded Britain's first postgraduate course in playwriting studies and is President of the Writers' Guild. He is an honorary associate artist of the RSC.


Helen Edmundson
Helen Edmundson's work for the theatre has included: The Clearing, first performed at the Bush Theatre, Mother Teresa is Dead, at the Royal Court Theatre; and five stage adaptations for Shared Experience Theatre - Anna Karenina and Mill on the Floss, both of which toured nationally and internationally, War and Peace, which was produced at the National Theatre in 1996 and again on tour in 2008, Gone to Earth, which was seen on tour and at the Lyric Hammersmith in 2003, and Orestes, at The Tricycle and on tour in 2006.

Helen's adaptation of Jamila Gavin's novel Coram Boy premiered at the National Theatre in November 2005 and was revived the following year before moving to Broadway. Her new version of Calderon's Life is a Dream was produced at the Donmar Warehouse in 2009, and most recently her adaptation of Arthur Ransome's Swallows and Amazons premiered at Bristol Old Vic in December 2010.

The Clearing received the John Whiting Award for best new play, as well as a Time Out Award. She also won TMA and Time Out Awards for The Mill on the Floss, Anna Karenina and most recently, a Time Out Award for Coram Boy.

Helen has written two short films for television: One Day for BBC2 and Stella for Channel 4. She has undertaken a number of adaptations for BBC Radio, including Virginia Woolf's The Voyage Out, Hardy's The Mayor of Casterbridge, and Arnold Bennett's Anna of the Five Towns which can be heard next year.

She is currently under commission with the RSC, Shared Experience Theatre and the Donmar Warehouse.


David Farr, RSC Associate Director
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 worked at the Almeida Opera, the National Theatre of Czech Republic and Gavella Theatre in Zagreb.

Previous productions directed for the RSC include King Lear, The Winter's Tale, Julius Caesar, Silence, Coriolanus, Night of the Soul, Silence (RSC in association with Filter).

Other productions include: The Odyssey, Metamorphosis, Water (Filter), 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.


Gisli Örn Gardarsson
Gisli trained as an actor at the Icelandic Academy of the Arts. He works as an actor and director and has adapted and produced various productions.

RSC work includes the title role in Don John (in association with Kneehigh Theatre Company).

Other theatre (as actor): A Matter of Life and Death, National Theatre of England/Kneehigh, Metamorphosis, Nights at the Circus, Lyric Hammersmith, Rambo 7, National Theatre of Iceland, Brim (Surf), Titus Andronicus, Vesturport, Romeo and Juliet, West End / Young Vic / Reykjavik, Like Water for Chocolate, Kristnihald Undir Jokli, Reykjavik City Theatre.

Other theatre work (as director): Metamorphosis (also adaptation), Love the Musical (also writer), Kommunan (also adaptation), Woyzeck (also adaptation), Faust (also writer) Romeo and Juliet (also adaptation).

Film (as actor): Brim, Zik Zak and Vesturport, Prince of Persia, Disney, Kings Road, Mystery, Country Wedding, Mystery, Children, Vesturport Films, Beowulf and Grendel.

TV series: I Hunt Men, RUV.


Nancy Meckler
Nancy has been joint Artistic Director of Shared Experience since 1987. Previously she was a founder member of the Freehold Theatre and an Associate Director for Hampstead Theatre and the Leicester Haymarket.

Previous RSC productions: Romeo and Juliet, The Comedy of Errors and House of Desires.

Other theatre: A Passage to India, Mill on the Floss, The Tempest, Gone To Earth, Mother Courage and Her Children (Shared Experience), ID (Written by and starring Anthony Sher, Almeida), War and Peace, Rose (Royal National Theatre), Anna Karenina (Tricycle).

Film includes: Alive and Kicking (won an Audience Award at the London Film Festival 1996), Sister My Sister (starring Julie Walters, 1995).


Roxana Silbert, RSC Associate Director
Roxana Silbert is an Associate Director for the RSC. She was previously Artistic Director of Paines Plough (2005 - 2009), Literary Director at the Traverse Theatre (2001 - 2004) and Associate Director, Royal Court (1998 - 2000).

RSC: Brixton Stories, Dunsinane, Such Tweet Sorrow, Little Eagles.

Theatre includes: The Comedy of Errors (Manchester Royal Exchange), Orphans by Dennis Kelly (Traverse/Birmingham Rep/Soho), Roaring Trade by Steve Thompson (Paines Plough/Soho) and Dallas Sweetman by Sebastian Barry (Paines Plough/Canterbury Cathedral), Long Time Dead (Paines Plough/Plymouth Theatre Royal/ Traverse Theatre), Strawberries in January (Paines Plough for Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh Festval), Under The Black Flag (Globe), After The End (Paines Plough/Bush Theatre/Traverse, Edinburgh Festival 2005, 59e59, international tour), Whistle in the Dark (Citizens Theatre, Glasgow), Blonde Bombshells (West Yorkshire Playhouse), Damages (Bush Theatre) The People Next Door (Traverse Theatre/Theatre Royal, Stratford East); Iron (Traverse Theatre/Royal Court).

Radio includes: Hysteria by Terry Johnson, The Good Father by Christian O'Reilly (for BBC Radio 4); Brace Position by Rona Munro for BBC Radio Scotland and BBC Radio version of the RSC's production of Dunsinane.


Booking information

  • Priority Plus Booking for Supporters' Ensemble opens 9am Monday 11 April 2011
  • Full Members' web booking opens 9am Wednesday 13 April 2011
  • Full Members' telephone booking opens 9am Friday 15 April 2011
  • Associate Members' web booking opens 9am Wednesday 4 May 2011
  • Associate Members' telephone booking opens 9am Friday 6 May 2011
  • Public booking opens 9am Friday 13 May 2011
  • RSC Box Office 0844 800 1110 and www.rsc.org.uk


Images
For production images of all RSC shows, register free of charge on the EPO www.epo-online.com


Contact information
For further information on the RSC winter season, please contact:

philippa.harland@rsc.org.uk 0207 845 0512 or nada.zakula@rsc.org.uk 01789 412622

For press ticket enquiries for these productions: dean.asker@rsc.org.uk 01789 412660

Website: www.rsc.org.uk


Notes to Editors
The RSC Ensemble is generously supported by THE GATSBY CHARITABLE FOUNDATION and THE KOVNER FOUNDATION.

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

The Learning and Performance Network is a three year partnership programme between the RSC and over 400 primary and secondary schools across the country. It promotes excellence in the teaching, learning and performance of Shakespeare plays and targets schools with least access to our work. The programme is supported by Arts Council England, the Paul Hamlyn Foundation and the Nomura Charitable Trust as well as individual donors. Through the network, we have reached over 95,000 children and young people and worked with nearly 2,000 teachers.

Accenture and the RSC: High Performance. Delivered.
Since 2003, Accenture and the RSC have enjoyed a unique partnership. As our "High-Performance Business Partner", Accenture's sponsorship provides us with financial support as well as pro-bono consulting services that help us improve our business performance so that we achieve the same unparalleled success commercially as we enjoy artistically.

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