It will include artistic director Gregory Doran directing new productions of King Lear (starring Antony Sher in the title role) and The Tempest (with Simon Russell Beale returning to the company for the first time in 20 years to play Prospero), a 30th anniversary season in the Swan Theatre, and the re-opening of the Other Place studio in Stratford-upon-Avon in March, with a festival of new work to take place there in July.
In a press statement, Doran commented, "We will draw this extraordinary jubilee year in Stratford-upon-Avon to a close by staging two of Shakespeare’s greatest plays - King Lear and The Tempest – and by marking the 30th anniversary of our Swan Theatre with two new productions of plays from its very first season and a visceral new play by Anders Lustgarten."
He continued, "Inspired by the spectacular masques of Shakespeare's day, we have set ourselves the challenge of creating the most technologically advanced production we have ever staged in the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, working with Intel and The Imaginarium Studios. We will blend ancient theatre skills with innovative digital technology to conjure up Prospero's island, inhabited by fantastical characters, in Shakespeare's most magical late play The Tempest. I cannot think of a clearer way of showing the ‘infinite variety’ of Shakespeare's work and the inspiration he has provided over the centuries. Shakespeare is for everyone and we want to share his legacy with the widest possible audience. His inheritance is for the many, not the few."
In addition, "The Play's The Thing," a new permanent exhibition in the Swan Wing celebrating the RSC’s theatre-making history, will open June 25.
In the main house Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Melly Still will direct Cymbeline, beginning performances April 29 prior to an official opening May 10, for a run in rep through Oct. 15. It will be broadcast live to cinemas Sept. 28. The title role of Cymbeline, the Queen of a divided Britain, will be played by Gillian Bevan. The production is designed by Anna Fleischle, with lighting by Philip Gladwell and music by Dave Price. It is joined in rep by King Lear, beginning performances Aug. 20, prior to an official opening Sept. 1, for a run through Oct. 15, and The Tempest, beginning performance Nov. 8, prior to an official opening Nov. 17, for a run through Jan. 21, 2017.
In the Swan, Blanche MacIntyre will make her RSC directing debut to stage The Two Noble Kinsmen by Shakespeare and John Fletcher, beginning performances Aug. 17 prior to an official opening Aug. 24 for a run in rep through Feb. 9, and Loveday Ingram will direct Aphra Benn's The Rover, beginning performances Sept. 8 prior to an official opening Sept. 15, for a run in rep through Feb. 11.
Both plays were seen in the Swan's first season; they will be joined by a newly commissioned play by Anders Lustgaren called The Seven Acts of Mercy, beginning performances Nov. 24 prior to an official opening Dec. 1 for a run through Feb. 11. According to press materials, it plays out across 400 years between Caravaggi's Naples in 17th-century Italy and the housing estates of Bootle in England today, where a retired dock worker teaches his grandson, as around them a community is disintegrating under the pressure of years of economic and political degradation.
The Other Place, comprising a brand-new studio theatre, new rehearsal room, cafe bar and costume store, will re-open in March. The first RSC performances in the theatre will take place in late summer, commissioned from a provocation in 2015, when deputy artistic director, Erica Whyman, asked 20 writers, theatre makers and directors to explore whether anything is truly unsayable in Britain in the 21st century. Led by Whyman and playwright, Mark Ravenhill, the event included conversations with Rev. Giles Fraser, graphic novelist Darryl Cunningham and journalist Lucy Mangan.
To book tickets, which go on public sale from Feb. 29 following priority booking beforehand to various categories of supporters and members, contact the box office on 01789 403493 or visit www.rsc.org.uk.