Frances Barber, Romola Garai and Sylvester McCoy have joined rehearsals for the two classics, which will run in repertory at Stratford-upon-Avon's Courtyard Theatre March 24-June 23.
The productions will then embark on a U.K. and international tour with a West End staging expected next winter.
Actor William Gaunt (Humble Boy and The Cherry Orchard for the National) will make his RSC debut sharing the role of Sorin with McKellen in The Seagull. The actors will play the role on alternate performances.
McKellen returns to the RSC after 17 years with his and Nunn's long-planned King Lear. The production will round off the RSC's year-long Complete Work's season.
Garai, best known for her screen work — including “Inside I’m Dancing” and “Vanity Fair” — plays Cordelia in Lear and Nina in The Seagull. The plays represent her RSC debut, which is also true of her fellow rising star, drama student Richard Goulding, who plays Konstantin in The Seagull. Barber’s recent West End appearances include One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest with Christian Slater; Cleopatra in Antony and Cleopatra; and Aladdin, with McKellen's Widow Twanky. For her latest collaboration with McKellen, she plays Goneril in Lear and Arkadina in The Seagull.
McCoy, who last appeared with RSC in the company's 2001 production of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, will play The Fool in Lear. He is best known for his television appearances as "Dr. Who."
Speaking about the two productions Nunn, who was the RSC's artistic director from 1968-1986 said, "For many years now I have been hoping to return to my theatrical roots in the RSC, and for even longer, I have been looking forward to the fulfilment of the vow Ian McKellen and I made that one day we would do King Lear together. Add to that the fact that we both believe in ensemble work playing in repertoire, and you have the background of this exciting plan to perform these two plays with the same cast in Stratford-upon-Avon.”
For more on King Lear and The Seagull, call (0)870 7845 0512.