Galileo casting

14 December 2012

A Life of Galileo
By Bertolt Brecht
Translated by Mark Ravenhill

Directed by Roxana Silbert

Swan Theatre 31 January – 30 March 2013
Press night: Tuesday 12 February 2013, 7pm

Part of the Royal Shakespeare Company's A World Elsewhere trilogy of newly adapted classics from around the world.

Ian McDiarmid returns to the Royal Shakespeare Company after an absence of 27 years to play the title role in the RSC's forthcoming production of Brecht's A Life of Galileo. Newly translated by RSC writer in residence, Mark Ravenhill, the production will run at The Swan Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon from 31 January until 30 March 2013.

Also returning to the RSC as part of the production is Jodie McNee in the role of Virginia, following her critically acclaimed roles last season including Isabella in Roxana Silbert's Measure for Measure, and Mary Currer in Written on the Heart (the latter transferred to the West End after a run in the Swan Theatre in Stratford upon Avon).

The production runs in repertoire alongside The Orphan of Zhao and Boris Godunov and is the final instalment in the RSC's A World Elsewhere trilogy, featuring an acting company that is cross cast across all three plays. The rest of the cast includes Gethin Anthony (Cardinal Bellarmin), Matthew Aubrey (Andrea), Adam Burton (Vanni), Jake Fairbrother (Ludovico), Joel Gillman (Little Monk), Nia Gwynne (First Scholar), Paul Hamilton (Federzoni), Siu Hun Li (Very Thin Monk), Joan Iyiola, Youssef Kerkour (Philosopher/Monk), Chris Lew Kum Hoi (Cosimo de Medici), Susan Momoko Hingley (Ballad Singer's Wife), Patrick Romer (Very Old Cardinal/Senator), James Tucker (Bursar), Martin Turner (Sagredo/Cardinal Inquisitor), Philip Whitchurch (Cardinal Barberini/Ballad Singer), and Sadie Shimmin (Mrs Sarti).

Directed for the RSC by Roxana Silbert, A Life of Galileo is arguably Brecht's greatest play and charts the seventeenth century scientist's extraordinary fight with the church over his assertion that the earth orbits the sun.

Ian McDiarmid previously worked for the RSC in the 1976-7 season and more recently in the 1984-5 season, in plays which include: Schweyk in the Second World War, The Maple Tree Game, Henry V, Dingo, Destiny, Macbeth and Much Ado about Nothing. Other recent theatre includes: Timon in Timon of Athens for Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, Maximus in Emperor and Galilean for the National Theatre, The Elector in The Prince of Homburg, the title role in John Gabriel Borkman for The Donmar Warehouse and the father in RSC Associate Director Rupert Goold's Six Characters in Search of an Author for the Chichester Festival Theatre. Amongst Ian's directing credits are: Don Juan for the Royal Exchange, The Possibilities, Scenes from an Execution, The Rehearsal and Lulu – all for the Almeida where he was joint artistic director of the company with Jonathan Kent from 1990 to 2002. During that time his acting roles for the Almeida included Prospero in The Tempest and the award winning role of Teddy in The Faith Healer (both directed by Jonathan Kent), as well as Barabas in Michael Grandage's production of The Jew of Malta.

Ian is perhaps best known for his iconic role as Supreme Chancellor Palpatine and Emperor Palpatine (aka Darth Sidious) in George Lucas' Star Wars – Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, Star Wars II: Attack of the Clones, Star Wars – Episode 1: The Phantom Menace and Star Wars – Episode VI: Return of the Jedi. His other film credits include Dr Thomas Lancaster in Tim Burton's Sleepy Hollow with Johnny Depp, Arthur in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Andreev in Gorky Park and Brother Jacobus in Dragonslayer.

Roxana Silbert returns to the RSC having recently directed Richard III and A Soldier in Every Son: The Rise of the Aztecs as part of the World Shakespeare Festival in 2012. She recently took up the post of Artistic Director for the Birmingham Repertory Theatre.

The production is designed by Tom Scutt, who designed the RSC's recent productions of Romeo and Juliet and The Merchant of Venice. Music and sound is by Nick Powell, movement is by Struan Leslie and lighting is by Rick Fisher.

For further information, please contact Philippa Harland on 020 7845 0512 or or Amy Belson on 01789 412622 or

For press ticket requests and regional requests, please contact Dean Asker on 01789 412660 or

Date of issue: 14 December 2012

Notes to Editors:

A World Elsewhere is a trilogy of newly adapted plays from around the world written or imagined during Shakespeare's lifetime. 'A World Elsewhere' is a quote from Shakespeare's Coriolanus, reminding Rome's citizens that there are other countries and people apart from their own.

The other plays in the trilogy, which run in repertoire with A Life of Galileo in the Swan Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon are The Orphan of Zhao adapted by James Fenton (previewing from 30 October 2012) and directed by Gregory Doran and a new adaptation of Boris Godunov by Adrian Mitchell based on the play by Alexander Pushkin and directed by Michael Boyd (previewing from 15 November 2012),

Production images will be available to download as soon as they are available by registering on

Twitter hashtag: #RSCGalileo


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

Mark Ravenhill's post as Writer in Residence is generously supported by the Columbia Foundation Fund of the Capital Community Foundation. His next RSC project Candide, A Response to Voltaire, opens in the Swan Theatre in September 2013

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