The company's artistic director Michael Boyd explained the absence of Shakespeare by pointing out that the company is gearing up to present the complete works. In a press release, he said, "Just before we present the first ever Complete Works of Shakespeare Festival in Stratford, it makes sense, even for the RSC, that our winter season contains no Shakespeare. We know Shakespeare drew inspiration from Chaucer, so it's appropriate that in the run up to the Complete Works Festival we explore the roots of our theatrical history."
The winter season will begin, though, with Great Expectations, presented in association with Cheek By Jowl. The RSC has a history of Dickens adaptations, most famously with their Nicholas Nickleby. Great Expectations, adapted by Nick Ormerod and Declan Donnellan, will begin previews Nov. 25, running until Feb. 4, 2006. Donnellan will direct, Ormerod will design.
That will be followed in the Royal Shakespeare Theatre by The Crucible. Dominic Cooke will direct. The show will begin previews Feb. 16 running until March 18.
The Canterbury Tales will play in The Swan. All 23 of Chaucer's tales will be staged over two shows (which can be seen sequentially or in isolation). The adaptation will be by Mike Poulton, whose version of Schiller's Don Carlos enjoyed such success in London early in 2005. Gregory Doran and others (to be announced) will direct. Michael Vale will design. After their Swan run, both parts of the production will play at the Kennedy Center in Washington DC.
Middleton's Women Beware Women will be staged in the Swan beginning Feb. 16. Penelope Wilton will lead the Jacobean tragedy, a cautionary tale exposing the terrible consequences of corrupt lives. Laurence Boswell will direct, Richard Hudson will design. The show will play until April 1. Further casting and details for the season have yet to be announced. For more information, call (0)870 609 1110.