Plans include a new staging of Romeo and Juliet — directed by Neil Bartlett — in Stratford (following a U.K. national tour), where it will play in repertory with a new production of Don John, a re-telling of Mozart's Don Giovanni by innovative theatre company Kneehigh.
The RSC will also take over Wilton's Music Hall in London to premiere two new plays, Adriano Shaplin's The Tragedy of Thomas Hobbes and Marina Carr's The Cordelia Dream. In addition, Filter Theatre will revive its radically cut version of Twelfth Night — seen during the RSC's Complete Works Festival — to tour the U.K. as the Filter Schools/RSC Education tour to schools in Birmingham, Warwickshire and London, as well as one late-night performance at Stratford's Courtyard Theatre.
In a press statement, RSC artistic director Michael Boyd commented, "2008 is a year of great change for the RSC, with the transformation of our theatres well and truly underway. But the ambitions for our work remain the same - to play Shakespeare, to build on the legacy of the Complete Works Festival, collaborating and developing our relationships with other U.K. companies, to tour, taking that work out to as wide an audience as possible, and to continue our commitment to writers and to new plays."
About the new Neil Bartlett-directed production of Romeo and Juliet, Boyd stated, "I'm excited by what Neil will bring to bear on one of Shakespeare’s most popular plays." It will launch a tour at Brighton's Theatre Royal Oct. 17-25, then visit Glasgow's King's Theatre, Milton Keynes Theatre, the Lowry at Salford Quays and Norwich's Theatre Royal before opening at Stratford-upon-Avon's Courtyard Theatre on Dec. 4.
It will perform in repertory with Kneehigh's new production of Don John, which will premiere in Stratford prior to touring. According to Boyd, "Our relationship with Kneehigh Theatre began with their playful retelling of Cymbeline in the Complete Works Festival, and I'm very proud that they want to continue collaborating with the RSC on this retelling of Mozart's Don Giovanni." It opens at Stratford's Courtyard Theatre on Dec. 18 (following previews from Dec 12) for a run to Jan. 10, 2009. Kneehigh, currently represented by its production of Noel Coward's Brief Encounter at the Cinema in the Haymarket, is a driving force in contemporary British theatre under artistic director Emma Rice, who also directs Don John. Other work includes Tristan & Yseult (which was seen at the National's Cottesloe Theatre), A Matter of Life and Death (at the National's Olivier Theatre), and Rupunzel, which goes to New York's New Victory Theatre March 7-23. Of the new writing projects, Boyd commented, "We are also building on our promise to create new work alongside Shakespeare and to develop that work within our Shakespeare ensembles. Writers Adriano Shaplin and Marina Carr, along with directors Elizabeth Freestone and Selina Cartmell, will spend the summer rehearsing with The Merchant of Venice and The Taming of the Shrew company, and I am delighted to announce that their productions of The Tragedy of Thomas Hobbes and The Cordelia Dream will premiere at Wilton's Music Hall, a venue steeped in history and full of good ghosts."
The world premiere of Adriano Shaplin's The Tragedy of Thomas Hobbes will take place at Wilton's Music Hall on Dec. 9 (following previews from Dec. 4), for a four-week run. It is directed by the playwright and Elizabeth Freestone and cast from the ensemble of actors playing in The Taming of the Shrew and The Merchant of Venice, including Stephen Boxer, Angus Wright and Amanda Hadingue. A history play set in London in 1658, it revolves around England's most famous philosopher as he is poised to do battle with a faction of young scientists — Cromwell has closed the theatres, and there is talk in the coffee houses of revolution. According to press materials, "The Tragedy of Thomas Hobbes brings to life a period of history when science was the new theatre and philosophy became a new faith." The play is described as "a provocative and experimental journey back to a time of dead dogs, new gods, and witnessing miracles."
Marina Carr's The Cordelia Dream, opening at Wilton's Music Hall on Jan. 8 (following previews from Jan. 3) for a run to Jan. 24, is described as "a ferocious two-hander." According to press materials, "A musician and his rival, a younger woman, are having a long-awaited conversation. As they spit their mutual malice with precision and aplomb, they question the hatred they have used to outdo each other in pursuit of art. With echoes of King Lear, it promises to unpick the belief that a muse must be made of love." The production is cast from the ensemble of actors performing The Merchant of Venice and The Taming of the Shrew and includes Michelle Gomez and David Hargreaves.
For further information, contact the RSC ticket hotline at 0844 800 1110 or visit www.rsc.org.uk.