NEW LIVE STREAMED EVENTS ANNOUNCED FOR JANUARY 2021 AT THE ROYAL SHAKESPEARE THEATRE
- Swingin’ the Dream. A concert of a work in progress from the Royal Shakespeare Company with the Young Vic and New York’s Theatre for a New Audience including original music and songs from the 1939 production by Gilbert Seldes and Erik Charell. Presented by Kwame Kwei-Armah.
- Young Bloods – A dynamic celebration of Shakespeare’s younger characters curated by members of the RSC’s Next Generation Act Company and Youth Advisory Board
- Michael Morpurgo’s Tales for Shakespeare – weekly retellings of Shakespeare’s timeless stories, streamed free to schools in January
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The Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) has today announced further details of its Tales for Winter 2020/21 programme which includes Swingin’ the Dream; a concert of a work in progress from the Royal Shakespeare Company, with the Young Vic and Theatre for a New Audience including original music and songs from the 1939 production by Gilbert Seldes and Erik Charell.
First performed at The Center Theatre, Broadway in 1939, Gilbert Seldes and Erik Charell’s jazz-infused version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream is widely regarded as one of the most ambitious and intriguing Broadway musical adaptations of Shakespeare ever.
The original musical featured lyrics by Eddie de Lange and music by Jimmy Van Heusen with choreography by Agnes Demille. Relocating Shakespeare’s comedy from 16th Century Athens to 1890s New Orleans, Erik Charell’s pioneering production combined original music with popular jazz standards from the great American songbook including Ain't Misbehavin', Blue Moon, St Louis Blues and Darn That Dream.
The 1939 musical also featured some of the most popular African American performers of the day including Louis Armstrong, Moms Mabley, Maxine Sullivan, the Dandridge Sisters and Butterfly McQueen alongside musical contributions from Count Basie, Fats Waller and Benny Goodman.
Now, eight decades on from the show’s Broadway premiere, the Royal Shakespeare Company has teamed up with London’s Young Vic and Theatre for a New Audience (New York) to swing into the New Year in style with a one-off concert telling the story of the musical.
Presented by Kwame Kwei-Armah, the show will feature a selection of original songs from the production performed by RSC musicians Peter Edwards(MD/Arranger/Piano), Neil Charles (Bass), Chris Storr(Trumpet) and Zara McFarlane (Vocals). The cast includes Alfred Clay, Andrew French, Kemi-Bo Jacobs, Cornell S John, Georgia Landers, Mogali Masuku, Baker Mukasa and Anne Odeke.
The concert performance will be streamed live from the Royal Shakespeare Theatre on Saturday 9 January 2021 at 7pm.
Further details of the new musical co-production, inspired by Swingin’ the Dream, will be announced in due course.
Gregory Doran, RSC Artistic Director said: “The story of Swingin’ the Dream brings together so many different elements: Shakespeare, Jazz and some extraordinary talent. But it also touches on the deeply challenging issues of representation, of exploitation, of segregation and cultural ownership. The way these issues have gained in prominence, and the urgent need to tell stories which illuminate and articulate the historical and contemporary Black experience, makes the resonances of this story even more powerful.”
Kwame Kwei-Armah, Artistic Director of the Young Vic said; “The fact that this production of Swingin’ the Dream existed, and that the manuscript has since disappeared and has never been found, simply intrigues me. I am really excited by the idea that Louis Armstrong was once in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and the fact that there was a Producer who wanted to make a statement on Broadway at that time about people coming together to simply create great art. So, the moment Greg pulled my coat to this project, I wanted in. And I wanted in because I think we can build something beautiful in the spirit of that original ‘dream’.”
Jeffrey Horowitz, Founding Artistic Director of Theatre for a New Audience said: “In 2017, Greg asked me if I knew about the 1939 Broadway musical, Swingin’ the Dream and the Duke Ellington quote, “Somehow, I suspect that if Shakespeare were alive today, he might be a jazz fan himself.” Over the past three years, my excitement about working with the RSC and Young Vic on Swingin’ the Dream has only grown. But my understanding of what I think the story is and why an African-American playwright might want to collaborate with us - has evolved considerably.
Everyone in the Swingin’ the Dream company is searching for their dream by making a new kind of art. The original songs and music are terrific and the dancing has great energy. But, against that buoyancy is the reality of what happened to the artists’ dreams? Without an African-American co-author such as, for example, Langston Hughes or Zora Neal Hurston who understood jazz and African American culture collaborating with Gilbert Seldes and Erik Charell, what was lost in this fusion of “Midsummer” with Swing? Who exploits whom? Who influences American cultural life? What might Black artists in the production feel they had to do to survive? And how might the rhythms of swing and jazz influence the speaking of Shakespeare’s text? These are all important questions which we want to address in creating this new musical around the idea of Swingin’ the Dream.”
Bringing the Tales for Winter season to a close on Saturday 16 January 2021, Young Bloods will put power into the hands of young people as members of the Next Generation Act Company and Youth Advisory Board take up the role of RSC Artistic Directors.
Directed by Tinuke Craig, Young Bloods will see the RSC Acting Company perform extracts from Shakespeare’s plays selected by young people which showcase the voices, priorities and experiences which resonate for them today.
Drawing inspiration from the words of William Shakespeare whilst responding directly to the world in which we live, this unique coming-together of talent from across the Royal Shakespeare Company will shine a spotlight on the issues that matter most to young people. At the same time, it will celebrate the timeless and enduring power of Shakespeare’s words which continue to make their presence felt across the generations.
Young Bloods will be streamed live from the Royal Shakespeare Theatre on Saturday 16 January 2021 at 7pm.
Made up of 25 young people aged between 13 and 18, Next Generation Act is one strand of RSC Next Generation, a unique talent development programme that provides gifted young people from backgrounds currently under-represented in the theatre industry the opportunity to gain experience in acting, directing or backstage roles and explore whether a career in the theatre is for them.
The RSC Youth Advisory Board is made up of 31 young people, aged 9 -21 from across England. The Youth Advisory Board report directly to the RSC’s Board which is responsible for the governance of the RSC as a registered charity.
The Company works with hundreds of thousands of young people every year through its education work, and the Youth Advisory Board ensures that their voices opinions and ideas contribute to the RSC’s vision and planning.
Michael Morpurgo’s Tales from Shakespeare
As young people and teachers continue to adapt to new ways of teaching and learning as a result of Covid-19, the RSC will join forces with celebrated author Michael Morpurgo, to present a new series of weekly online Tales from Shakespeare running for five weeks from 8 January 2021.
The series will launch on Wednesday 6 January 2021, the day of Twelfth Night itself, with a celebratory reading by Michael Morpurgo, who will share his contemporary retelling of Shakespeare’s funny and touching tale of the same name alongside performed scenes from the play.
With additional titles including Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth, The Winter's Tale, The Tempest and A Midsummer Night's Dream, these performances are suitable for young people from Key Stages 1-4 and feature Michael Morpurgo himself as well as performances by the RSC’s current Acting Company.
Tales from Shakespeare will be streamed as live free into UK schools at 11am each Friday for a five-week period starting from Friday 8 January 2021. The recordings will then be available on demand for a three-month period for all schools who register.
Each event will then be available from 11am the following Monday for families to watch online on demand for seven days at a cost of £5 per family.
For more information, visit https://www.rsc.org.uk/education/schools-broadcasts/
For further information, please contact:
Kate Evans email@example.com 07920 244434
For press images, please register free of charge at https://images.rsc.org.uk/
BOOKING INFORMATION: 01789 331111 or www.rsc.org.uk
Priority Booking Period
Artist Circle, Gold and Silver Patrons: Monday 7 December, Online from 10am, Telephone booking opens at midday
Bronze Patrons: Tuesday 8 December, Online from 10am, Telephone booking opens at midday
Members: Wednesday 9 December, Online from 10am, Telephone booking opens at midday
Subscribers: Thursday 10 December, Online from 10am, Telephone booking opens at midday
Public Booking: Friday 11 December, Online from 10am, Telephone booking opens at midday
Registration for Schools - Michael Morpurgo’s Tales from Shakespeare: Monday 7 December.*
*Schools who register for the Friday streamed performances will also have three months' free access to the stories on demand for use in the classroom.
Royal Shakespeare Company with the Young Vic and Theatre for a New Audience present
Swingin’ the Dream
A concert of a work in progress including original music and songs from the 1939 production.
Presented by Kwame Kwei-Armah
A concert performance of a work in progress, telling the story of one of the most ambitious and intriguing Broadway musical adaptations of Shakespeare. This jazz-infused version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream opened in 1939 with a heady mixture of talent, including Louis Armstrong and Maxine Sullivan, and musical contributions from Count Basie and Benny Goodman. Eighty-two years on, we team up with London’s Young Vic and Theatre for a New Audience (New York) to swing into the new year in style.
From the plays of William Shakespeare
Directed by Tinuke Craig
“Now all the youth of England are on fire”
For this special event, we put power into the hands of young people as we appoint members of our Next Generation Act Company and our Youth Advisory Board as RSC Artistic Directors. Our RSC acting company will perform extracts from Shakespeare’s plays selected by our young people which showcase the voices, priorities and experiences which resonate for them today.
Tales from Shakespeare
Tickets £5 or buy all five for £20.
Free for schools.
Celebrated author Michael Morpurgo has joined the RSC to create his new Tales from Shakespeare. For five weeks from 8 January 2021, his fresh retellings of these timeless stories will be streamed free into UK schools at 11am on a Friday, then made available for anyone to buy and watch for up to seven days. Aimed at young people aged 6 to 16, the former Children’s Laureate has relocated Shakespeare’s characters to contemporary settings, unlocking the vivid drama at the heart of the tales.
Michael Morpurgo’s Twelfth Night
Wednesday 6 January 2021
From 11am for 24 hours
On Twelfth Night itself, best-selling author Michael Morpurgo reads his new contemporary retelling of Shakespeare’s funny and touching tale. This free event launches our series of weekly Morpurgo’s Tales from Shakespeare for schools and families.
Michael Morpurgo’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Available from Monday 11 January 2021 11am for seven days
BSL interpreted / Captioned
Streamed free to schools, Fri 8 Jan, 11am
One of a series of storytelling moments for schools and families. Shakespeare’s tale of fairies, love and mistaken identity is rewritten by beloved author Michael Morpurgo and read by RSC Actors.
Michael Morpurgo’s Romeo and Juliet
Available from Monday 18 January 2021 11am for seven days
Streamed free to schools, Fri 15 Jan 2021, 11am
One of a series of storytelling moments for schools and families. Rounding off a weekend in which we focus on Shakespeare’s young characters, RSC Actors read Michael Morpurgo’s retelling of the greatest young love story of all time.
Michael Morpurgo’s The Tempest
Available from Monday 25 January 10am for seven days
Streamed free to schools, Fri 22 Jan 2021, 11am
One of a series of storytelling moments for schools and families, read by RSC Actors. Celebrated author, Michael Morpurgo retells Shakespeare’s story of magic, love and power in his fresh, moving style.
Michael Morpurgo’s Macbeth
Available from Monday 1 February 2021 10am for seven days
Streamed free to schools, Fri 29 Jan, 11am
One of a series of storytelling moments for schools and families. Beloved and best-selling author Michael Morpurgo retells Shakespeare’s Scottish play of revenge and power in his fresh, moving style, read by RSC Actors.
Michael Morpurgo’s The Winter’s Tale
Available from Monday 8 February 2021 10am for seven days
Streamed free to schools, Fri 5 Feb, 11am
In the last of our series, the Children’s Laureate (2003-05) will read his contemporary retelling of The Winter’s Tale, a story full of loss, hope and homecoming.
WITH THANKS TO OUR SUPPORTERS
Arts Council England is the national development body for arts and culture across England, working to enrich people’s lives. We support a range of activities across the arts, museums and libraries – from theatre to visual art, reading to dance, music to literature, and crafts to collections. Great art and culture inspires us, brings us together and teaches us about ourselves and the world around us. In short, it makes life better. Between 2018 and 2022, we will invest £1.45 billion of public money from government and an estimated £860 million from the National Lottery to help create these experiences for as many people as possible across the country. www.artscouncil.org.uk
The RSC is supported using public funding by Arts Council England.
The RSC is generously supported by RSC America
The RSC Acting Companies are generously supported by The Gatsby Charitable Foundation and The Kovner Foundation
The work of the RSC Literary Department is generously supported by The Drue and H.J. Heinz II Charitable Trust
RSC Next Generation is generously supported by GRoW @ Annenberg and The John S Cohen Foundation.
The work of the RSC Education Department is generously supported by Paul Hamlyn Foundation, Adobe, The Clore Duffield Foundation, The 29th May 1961 Charitable Trust, GRoW @ Annenberg, Samsung, The Polonsky Foundation, The Schroder Foundation, The Wyfold Charitable Trust, The John S Cohen Foundation, The Goldsmiths’ Company Charity, Teale Charitable Trust, The Grimmitt Trust, George Fentham Birmingham Charity, The Misses Barrie Charitable Trust, TAK Advisory Limited and Stratford Town Trust.
NOTES TO EDITORS
The Royal Shakespeare Company creates theatre at its best, made in Stratford-upon-Avon and shared around the world. We produce an inspirational artistic programme each year, setting Shakespeare in context, alongside the work of his contemporaries and today’s writers.
We have trained generations of the very best theatre makers and we continue to nurture the talent of the future. We encourage everyone to enjoy a lifelong relationship with Shakespeare and live theatre. We reach 530,000 children and young people annually through our education work, transforming their experiences in the classroom, in performance and online.
Everyone at the RSC - from actors to armourers, musicians to technicians - plays a part in creating the world you see on stage.
We recognise the climate emergency and work hard to embed environmental sustainability into our operations, creative work and business practice and have made a commitment to reduce continually our Carbon Footprint. We have measures already in place from green electricity to replace energy consuming equipment with high efficiency, using low carbon equipment, and delivering programmes to raise environmental awareness across the RSC. We acknowledge that sharing our work with audiences across the world will involve travel and that we need to mitigate the impact of that on our carbon footprint.
Registered charity no. 212481 rsc.org.uk
The RSC Associate Schools Programme is the RSC’s long-term partnership programme with 261 schools and 11 regional theatre partners nationwide that aims to immerse teachers and students in new
ways of learning about and teaching Shakespeare’s plays. The programme creates pathways for teachers, students, and artists to develop their talents and skills; build leadership capacities; and become ambassadors for Shakespeare, theatre, and arts in their communities.
The Associate Schools programme is built around the principle of schools working in local partnerships to develop communities of practice inspired by Shakespeare’s work. We aim for each local partnership to consist of a Lead Associate School who in turn recruits a number of Associate Schools. In many cases these local partnerships include a regional theatre as well as the Royal Shakespeare Company.
Schools that are interested in becoming a Lead school need to demonstrate a commitment to the teaching of Shakespeare at levels of the school, including governors and senior leadership. They also recruit and coordinate a cluster of up to ten Associate Schools in their area. The programme aims to enrich the teaching, learning and performance of Shakespeare’s work nationally.
The Associate Schools programme is open to any state-maintained primary, secondary and special schools in England, particularly those serving areas of socio-economic disadvantage.
Further information can be found at rsc.org.uk/education
About RSC Next Generation: From the first ever RSC young company of actors, to discovering the next generation of directors, managers and theatre specialists, RSC Next Generation, is a unique talent development programme that gives gifted young people from disadvantaged backgrounds the opportunity to gain experience and explore whether a career in the theatre is for them.
The programme has three strands;
- ACT: Up to 25 talented youngsters aged 13-18 will join RSC Next Generation to hone and develop their skills as actors.
- DIRECT: This strand is for young people aged 18+ who demonstrate the obvious creative leadership and directing skills needed to take a play from page to stage.
- BACKSTAGE: Each year 40 - 50 students aged 13-18 are given a ‘Backstage Pass’ to discover what goes on behind the scenes to bring each production to life.
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