Boyd spoke of his plans for the company, which center on the creation of a sense of ensemble, where actors might want to return to several seasons at the RSC in a row, without feeling they are locked in to it in a constricting way. Speaking of this he jokingly gave, as an example, the fact that Judi Dench (who will star in All's Well That Ends Well) will always be free to make her James Bond movies! As would Bond villain Toby Stephens, who was at the launch because he will be playing Hamlet next year, in a production directed by Boyd himself.
This winter's RSC productions are Laurence Boswell's version of Beauty and the Beast, Greg Doran's production of All's Well That Ends Well and his production of Othello, co-starring Sello Maake ka Ncube (as Othello) and Sir Antony Sher as Iago.
The new year, 2004, will see the RSC concentrate on Shakespeare's tragedies, with productions of Macbeth (starring Greg Hicks and Sian Thomas, directed by Dominic Cooke); Romeo and Juliet, directed by Peter Gill, with casting to be confirmed; Hamlet, starring Toby Stephens, directed by Michael Boyd and with Sian Thomas as Gertrude; and King Lear, which will star Corin Redgrave.
A major part of the season will be the Spanish Golden Age season of Spanish plays, overseen by Laurence Boswell, who will direct the first, The Dog in the Manger by Lope de Vega. The other plays are Tamar's Revenge, The House of Desires and Pedro, The Great Pretender.
There will also be a series of new plays: Poor Beck by Joanna Laurens, Midwinter by Zinnie Harris and Pontius Pilate, a devised work directed by Michael Boyd, based on Anne Wroe's book on Pilate's life.