With Its Own Auditorium in Tow, RSC Begins Residency at Park Avenue Armory July 6

By Adam Hetrick
06 Jul 2011

RSC artistic director Michael Boyd
RSC artistic director Michael Boyd

The Royal Shakespeare Company is bringing the Bard to New York audiences in style. The company begins its six-week residency at the Park Avenue Armory July 6, offering five Shakespeare plays in repertory, performed on a replica of its Stratford-upon-Avon Theatre.

The Lincoln Center Festival has aligned with the Armory and Ohio State University to bring the RSC to New York as the culmination of three years' worth of rehearsal and performances. RSC artistic director Michael Boyd presides over the 44-performance event, which is presented on a thrust stage recreation of the RSC's Courtyard Theatre.

The 965-seat theatre was specifically designed as a freestanding structure to fit within the Armory's Wade Thompson Drill Hall. Forty-one actors and 21 musicians comprise the troupe who offer As You Like It, Romeo and Juliet, King Lear, The Winter's Tale and Julius Caesar in repertory through Aug. 14.

"The first conversations were in about 2007, when we first met up with the Lincoln Center Festival and started talking about bringing the entire repertoire to New York," RSC executive director Vikki Heywood told Playbill.com. "Then we came and saw the Park Avenue Armory, which was the most extraordinary and wonderfully inspiring space. And so from that point onwards we really started to develop the plans. We built this auditorium in our workshops in Stratford-upon-Avon, and that's been happening over about the past nine months. So, really, it's been a huge project."



Heywood said that bringing the replica of the Courtyard Theatre was essential to create "a fantastic intimate relationship between the actor and the audience, and the audience with itself. So when we had the opportunity to start thinking about bringing the entire repertoire to New York, it did become very important for us to maintain that intimacy and that connection and to present our work in New York in the same way that we would do in Stratford-upon-Avon."

Sam Troughton and Mariah Gale in Romeo and Juliet.
photo by Ellie Kurttz

Here's a look at the previously announced schedule:

As You Like It launches the residency July 6 and officially open July 7. RSC artistic director Boyd directs a cast including Katy Stephens as Rosalind/Ganymede, Jonjo O'Neill as Orlando, Richard Katz as Touchstone, Mariah Gale as Celia, Geoffrey Freshwater as Corin, Forbes Masson as Jaques, Clarence Smith as Duke Ferdinand, James Tucker as Duke Frederick, Charles Aitken as Oliver, Dyfan Dwyfor as Silvius and Christine Entwisle as Phoebe.

Romeo and Juliet, helmed by Rupert Goold (Enron), will begin July 10 and open July 11. Sam Troughton and Mariah Gale star in the titular roles, with Forbes Masson as Friar Lawrence, Joseph Arkley as Tybalt, James Howard as Paris, Jonjo O'Neill as Mercutio, Noma Dumezweni as the Nurse, Richard Katz as Lord Capulet, Oliver Ryan as Benvolio, Christine Entwisle as Lady Capulet and David Carr as Escalus.

David Farr will direct King Lear, which will begin July 15 and open July 16. Greg Hicks will portray the failing king. The cast will also feature Sophie Russell as The Fool, Charles Aitken as Edgar, Geoffrey Freshwater as Gloucester, Darrell D'Silva as Kent, Samantha Young as Cordelia, Kelly Hunter as Goneril, Katy Stephens as Regan, John Mackay as Duke of Albany, Clarence Smith as Duke of Cornwall, James Tucker as Oswald and Tunji Kasim as Edmund.

Farr will also stage The Winter's Tale, which is set to begin July 21 and open July 22. The cast will include Greg Hicks as Leontes, Kelly Hunter as Hermione, Darrell D'Silva as Polixenes, Samantha Young as Perdita, Tunji Kasim as Florizel, Brian Doherty as Autolycus, David Rubin as Antigonus, Noma Dumezweni as Paulina, Larrington Walker as the Old Shepherd, John Mackay as Camillo and Gruffudd Glyn as Young Shepherd.

Playbill took a tour of the Park Avenue Armory as the RSC was putting the finishing touches on the installation of its playhouse there. Take a look:

Lucy Bailey will direct Julius Caesar, which will begin July 28 and open July 29. The cast includes Greg Hicks as Caesar, Sam Troughton as Brutus and Darrell D’Silva as Mark Antony.

In addition to its five full stagings, RSC's Young People's Shakespeare productions will offer abbreviated presentations of Hamlet (directed by Brother/Sister Plays playwright Tarrell Alvin McCraney) and The Comedy of Errors (directed by Paul Hunter and produced in association with the British Theatre company Told by An Idiot).

For tickets phone (212) 721-6500, or visit LincolnCenterFestival.