Richard Wilson to Play Malvolio for RSC; Dominic Cooke to Direct Arabian Nights

News   Richard Wilson to Play Malvolio for RSC; Dominic Cooke to Direct Arabian Nights Veteran comedy actor Richard Wilson will make his RSC debut playing Malvolio in a new production of Twelfth Night that RSC Chief Associate director Gregory Doran will direct.

Dominic Cooke – former RSC associate who is now artistic director of London's Royal Court Theatre – will return to the company to stage a new production of his own adaptation of Arabian Nights that he first created at the Young Vic in 1998.

Twelfth Night will begin performances Oct 15, prior to an official opening Oct. 21, for a straight five-week run to Nov. 21 in Stratford-upon-Avon's Courtyard Theatre. Arabian Nights will follow, beginning performances Dec. 5, prior to an official opening Dec. 15, for a run to Jan. 30, 2010.

Wilson, who is best known for his TV role as Victor Meldrew in "One Foot in the Grave," has also appeared on TV in "Merlin," "Demons" and "New Tricks." Recent stage credits include Whipping it Up (Bush and West End's New Ambassadors), Waiting for Godot (Royal Exchange, Manchester) and What the Butler Saw (National Theatre). As a director, he is a former associate director of the Royal Court, where he has staged Rainbow Kiss and The Woman Before; he also directed Antony Sher in Primo (National Theatre, Hampstead, Broadway and for TV).

Wilson will be joined by Nancy Carroll as Viola and Alexandra Gilbreath as Olivia. Carroll has previously appeared with the RSC in Henry V, As You Like It and The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe. Other recent credits include Waste (Almeida) and The Man of Mode and The Voysey Inheritance (both National Theatre). Gilbreath appeared as Mistress Ford in Merry Wives – the Musical in 2006, and previously has appeared in The Tamer Tamed, The Taming of the Shrew, As You Like It, The Winter's Tale and Cyrano de Bergerac — all directed by Doran. She also played Juliet to David Tennant's Romeo in Michael Boyd's production in 2000. Doran's recent RSC credits include A Midsummer Night's Dream and Hamlet, both of which trasnferred to the West End's Novello Theatre.

In a press statement, Doran commented, "I am delighted to have finally persuaded Richard Wilson to play Malvolio, a part he was surely born to play. And it's a real pleasure to welcome back Nancy Carroll to play Viola and Alexandra Gilbreath to play Olivia. Nancy and Alexandra appeared opposite each other as Rosalind and Celia in my production of As You Like It in 2000. Twelfth Night is surely the most achingly sad of all Shakespeare's comedies tinged with a melancholy sadness and almost Chekhovian in its sense of loss." Arabian Nights, originally created and performed at the Young Vic in 1998, which was followed by a tour that included appearances at the Edinburgh Festival, Dublin and New York, is to be expanded and developed specially for the RSC's Courtyard Theatre, where it will be the first family show to play there. Aimed at audiences from seven years old upwards, a cast of 18 will bring Shahrazad's bewitching tales, which include Ali Baba and Es-Sindibad, to the stage by employing a combination of song, dance, puppetry and illusion.

Cooke's most recent RSC production was his version of Malorie Blackman's Noughts & Crosses in 2008, before which he directed Macbeth, As You Like It, The Crucible, Pericles and The Winter's Tale for the company. In a press statement, he said, "For a long time I've wanted to come back to Shahrazad and the 1001 nights and it's a fantastic moment to come back to the RSC and re-conceive the work for the dynamic space of the Courtyard."

To book tickets, contact the box office at 0844 800 1110. Public booking opens May 19; booking will open for RSC full and associate members at earlier dates. For further information, visit www.rsc.org.uk.