COMEDIAN STEWART LEE TO REWRITE THE PORTER SCENE IN RSC’S UPCOMING PRODUCTION OF MACBETH
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The Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) today announce that Comedian and screenwriter Stewart Lee will rewrite a contemporary version of the Porter scene, featuring Alison Peebles as the Porter, in Wils Wilson’s upcoming production of Shakespeare’s gripping and brutal tragedy, Macbeth.
Stewart Lee said: “I am delighted to have been asked by Wils Wilson to rewrite the rubbish Porter scene from Shakespeare’s Macbeth, which is in dire need of a post-alternative comedy makeover. Alison Peebles is an inspired piece of casting sure to bring the requisite level of attack. At the moment the scene is 2 hours long but hopefully will expand in rehearsal.”
Wils Wilson, director, said: “It felt incredibly important that the scene should be dark and funny, satirical and edgy, as it would have been originally. I really think comedy connects us directly, it gets through our defences and cuts through everything to the heart. I wanted to recapture the spirit and function of the original scene, to give the audience the same kind of experience that they would have had in 1606 - to find themselves suddenly laughing, to find themselves personally involved and implicated in a completely different and very direct way with the core ideas of the play - guilt, hypocrisy, greed.”
“The Porter is dark, funny, edgy, political, clever, a truth teller - Stewart is all of these things, straight away I knew I wanted to ask him to write it. He’s a brilliant comic writer, absolutely rigorous in pursuit of the right line or word or rhythm. It’s been such a pleasure to work with him on it. Stewart also has a really deep understanding of how comedy works, and the way he pushes and pulls the relationship with the audience, playing with different levels of reality, it's a perfect fit. The Porter scene is a strange meta moment in Macbeth and I knew Stewart would enjoy playing with that. There’s a very creative level of discomfort about Stewart’s writing, which is perfect for this moment.”
“Alison Peebles was the first person I asked to be in this production. She’s a wonderful actor, one of Scotland’s finest, and she has such a commanding presence, and she loves that direct relationship with an audience. She’s full of mischief and also there’s darkness and depth there as well as real humanity. I also like the fact she is an older woman joking about
drinking and sex and misbehaving, Even now that’s an unusual thing to see, it gives a different dynamic, a different edge, a new way in.”
The production, which features Reuben Joseph and Valene Kane as Macbeth and Lady Macbeth respectively alongside Alison Peebles as the Porter, opens in the Royal Shakespeare Theatre from Saturday 19 August – Saturday 14 October 2023, with Press Night on Wednesday 30 August at 7pm.
Full company comprises; Shyvonne Ahmmad (Malcolm), George Anton (Macduff), Therese Bradley (Duncan), Amber Sylvia Edwards (Witch), Annie Grace (Alice), Ryan Hunter (Ross), Amelia Isaac Jones (Donalbain), Reuben Joseph (Macbeth), Valene Kane (Lady Macbeth), Emma King (Lady Macduff), Liam King (Fleance), Kevin Lennon (Lennox), Eilidh Loan (Witch), Alasdair Macrae (Bloody Captain), Benjamin Osugo (Angus), Alison Peebles (Porter), Dylan Read (Witch), Anna Russell-Martin (Banquo) and Michael Wallace (First Murderer).
Macbeth is directed by Wils Wilson with Design by Georgia McGuinness, Lighting by Kai Fischer, Music by Alasdair Macrae and Sound by Claire Windsor. Movement and Choreography is by Julia Cheng, Fights by Kaitlin Howard with Casting by Simone Pereira Hind CDG and Anna Dawson.
Stewart Lee began stand-up in 1988 at the age of 20 and won the Hackney Empire New Act of the Year in 1990. In 2001 he co-wrote the libretto for Richard Thomas’s Jerry Springer, The Opera, which went on to win four Olivier Awards. His most recent live shows have been Carpet Remnant World (2011), Much A Stew About Nothing (2013), Room with a Stew (2015), Content Provider (2016), Snowflake/Tornado (2019) and Basic Lee (2022). He made four series of Stewart Lee’s Comedy Vehicle for the BBC which won Best Male TV Comic and Best Comedy Entertainment Performance at the British Comedy Awards in 2011 and a BAFTA in 2012. In 2014 he began performing Indeterminacy by John Cage with Tania Chen and Steve Beresford and in 2019, made King Rocker (with Michael Cummings) a rockumentary about The Nightingales. Stewart is also an occasional newspaper columnist, has published several books with Faber and continues to write for a variety of specialist music journals.
Stewart Lee’s BASIC LEE is at the Southbank Centre 28 June – 2nd July 2023 and continues to tour until Spring 2024 see www.stewartlee.co.uk
Alison Peebles will make her RSC debut as the Porter. Previous theatre credits include Life is A Dream (Royal Lyceum Theatre Edinburgh), 24 Hours of Peace (Royal Exchange
Theatre), Richard 111 (Perth Theatre), The Locker Room (Traverse Theatre), Paul Bright’s Confessions of a Justified Sinner, My Shrinking Life and 365 (National Theatre of Scotland).
Screen credits include Doctors (BBC Studios), Six Four (House Productions), Step 9 (South Of The River / Sister Productions) Molly & Mack; River City (BBC Studios), Shetland (ITV), The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde (NTS/Selkie Productions), The Lost King (Baby Cow Productions), Nettie (Macallan Brand Film), The Road Dance (Sheridan Road Productions), Where Do We Go From Here? (Worrying Drake Productions) and Seven Lucky Gods (Dehlavi Films).
Wils Wilson directed and co-created The Strange Undoing of Prudencia Hart which has been touring non-theatre spaces internationally since 2010, winning numerous awards including a Drama Desk Award for its New York run.
She is Associate Director at the Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh, where she directed Life is A Dream whose ‘wild, slightly punk-inflected brilliance’ (The Scotsman) recently won multiple awards at the Critics Awards for Theatre in Scotland, including Best Director, and for which Lorn MacDonald and Anna Russell Martin also won Ian Charleston Awards.
Her work at the Lyceum also includes Wind Resistance, created with singer-songwriter Karine Polwart and described as "a poignant, unflinching and beautiful show about healing, protection, the fragility of human life and the world around it.” (The Telegraph) for Edinburgh International Festival, Red Ellen (Edinburgh Lyceum/Northern Stage/Nottingham Playhouse), Twelfth Night (Bristol Old Vic/Lyceum), Cockpit and The Hour We Knew Nothing of Each Other.
Her other work includes the Olivier-nominated I Want My Hat Back for the National Theatre and shows for the Royal Court, Manchester Royal Exchange and Welsh National Opera.
She has worked extensively for National Theatre of Scotland, including The 306 Dusk, the final part of the trilogy remembering the 306 soldiers shot for desertion in WWI. She created two genre-defying shows with musician Gruff Rhys for National Theatre Wales - Praxis Makes Perfect (Best Director, Welsh Theatre Awards) described as “some sort of god-damn creative masterclass” by Artrocker magazine and Candylion.
Until 2007 Wils was co-Artistic Director of wilson+wilson, making site-specific work across the UK, where her work included HOUSE, Mapping the Edge, News from the Seventh Floor and Mulgrave.
For further information, please contact Kate Evans, Head of Media Relations (Royal Shakespeare Company) on 07920 244 434, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Saturday 19 August – Saturday 14 October
Press night: Wednesday 30 August at 7pm
By William Shakespeare
Director Wils Wilson
Designer Georgia McGuinness
Lighting Kai Fischer
Music Alasdair Macrae
Sound Claire Windsor
Movement and Choreography Julia Cheng
Fights Kaitlin Howard
Casting Directors Simone Pereira Hind CDG and Anna Dawson
Brutal actions have brutal consequences. The political and natural world is broken and the Macbeths seize this opportunity to rise through the ranks and control their destiny. But their ambitions unravel into a living nightmare in a world where boundaries are paper thin - between the natural and supernatural, love and hate, joy and despair.
This is a gripping, terrifying tale of our times.
In her RSC debut, award-winning director Wils Wilson (Associate Director at the Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh) directs Macbeth, one of Shakespeare’s most enduringly popular plays.
Wils directed and co-created The Strange Undoing of Prudencia Hart which has been touring non-theatre spaces internationally since 2010, winning numerous awards including a Drama Desk Award for its New York run. She has also directed Life is A Dream, recently winning multiple awards at the Critics Awards for Theatre in Scotland, including Best Director
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Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC)
The Royal Shakespeare Company is a theatre and learning charity that creates world class theatre, made in Stratford-upon-Avon and shared around the world, performing plays by Shakespeare and his contemporaries, as well as commissioning an exceptionally wide range of original work from contemporary writers. Our purpose is to ensure that Shakespeare is for everyone, and we do that by unlocking the power of his plays and of live performance and our learning and education work throughout the UK and across the world.
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