The first live broadcast will be the company’s forthcoming production of Richard II, directed by RSC artistic director Gregory Doran, with David Tennant in the title role, which opens at Stratford-upon-Avon's Royal Shakespeare Theatre in October. The production will be filmed during the Nov. 13, 2013, performance and simultaneously screened into over 100 cinemas around the country and available in North America, Australia, Japan and Northern Europe.
Further casting for Richard II also includes Nigel Lindsay in his RSC debut as Bolingbroke, Michael Pennington as John of Gaunt and Oliver Ford Davies as the Duke of York.
The production will be filmed using multiple cameras around the stage and auditorium, with John Wyver as producer, having previously collaborated with Gregory Doran on the RSC's filmed versions of Macbeth with Antony Sher and Harriet Walter for Channel 4 and Hamlet with David Tennant and the recent African Julius Caesar, both for the BBC.
The RSC is also opening up its work behind the scenes, through a series of short films available online during the run-up to the screening and live footage on the night, before the show and during the interval.
Richard II will be the first of three RSC Shakespeare plays to be filmed live during the next year, and is the start of an on-going program to make the Company's work more available to a nationwide and global audience. The next two titles will be announced in September. The Company is also offering an opportunity to schools across the U.K. to experience Richard II in the classroom Nov. 15, building on the success of its first direct-to-the-classroom interactive stream last year. The production will be streamed direct into up to 1,000 schools, reaching an estimated 60,000 students through a collaboration with Ravensbourne College and the Janet Network.
It will be accompanied by a live studio link-up hosted by Konnie Huq, who will introduce the webcast. Members of the creative team, including Gregory Doran and David Tennant, will also be on hand to take part in a live online Q&A with participating students.
In a press statement, Doran commented, "We want to bring the work we make in Stratford-upon-Avon to the widest possible audience. Taking our productions live into cinemas and direct into schools is the next logical step. We will start with Richard II. I have enjoyed a long and creative relationship with John Wyver and his company, Illuminations, working on filmed versions of my past RSC productions of Macbeth, Hamlet and Julius Caesar, and I’m looking forward to these new broadcasts, which are part of our commitment to celebrate our 'one-room spaces' in Stratford and capture the thrill of sitting in the audience and experiencing theatre live."
He continued, "Through a brand new partnership with Picturehouse Entertainment, who have a great track record in screening the arts live, we can share the RSC’s contemporary interpretations of our house playwright across the U.K. and around the world, direct from Shakespeare’s home town. Our on-going relationship with Ravensbourne College and the Janet Network also allows us to give a thousand schools the chance to get involved and experience one of Shakespeare's greatest plays live in the classroom."
For cinema listings and booking visit www.onscreen.rsc.org.uk to sign up for updates and follow the creation of the production online in the run up to the screening. U.K. schools wanting to sign up for streaming direct to the classroom should also visit www.onscreen.rsc.org.uk.