By Mark Shenton
09 Jan 2012
In a press statement, the RSC's artistic director Michael Boyd, who recently announced his departure from the company, commented, "Hot on the heels of the enormous ambition of the World Shakespeare Festival, this winter season will be my last with the RSC, although I and our team of associates will be planning further into 2013 to give my successor breathing room as they take over the helm. A World Elsewhere builds on our commitment to internationalism and puts great writing at its heart. With work from some of the best classical and contemporary writers from Shakespeare, Brecht and Pushkin to Mark Ravenhill, James Fenton and Adrian Mitchell, we have shaped a season which offers provocation and celebration in equal measure."
The Mouse and His Child will open in October, to be directed by Paul Hunter in his second production for the company, following his Young People's Shakespeare production of The Comedy of Errors, which was seen in Stratford-upon-Avon, London and New York. The Mouse and His Child will play in repertoire over the winter with a new production of The Merry Wives of Windsor.
The Swan Theatre season A World Elsewhere is curated by Gregory Doran and Roxana Silbert. According to Boyd's press statement, "As part of this season, I will be directing Pushkin's Boris Godunov. Adrian Mitchell's vivid new version has been on my desk since 2008 and I’ve been eager to explore this play by Russia's great writer for many years. Roxana will direct Mark Ravenhill's powerful new translation of Brecht's Galileo, confronting head on the clash between science and religion and the ability of new ideas to reshape the world. Greg will direct The Orphan of Zhao, the first Chinese play known in Europe, often referred to as a Chinese Hamlet." (The latter, attributed to Ji Junxiang, is adapted by James Fenton.)
The company will also present Anjin: The English Samurai, a spectacular Japanese epic that has been specially commissioned for the A World Elsewhere season in London. It will premiere in Tokyo and then transfer directly to Sadler's Wells for a run of ten performances in January 2013. It tells the story of William Adams, the first Englishman in Japan, who was shipwrecked off the coast in 1600. He arrived at a pivotal moment in Japanese history, and became close to the Shogun, Tokugawa Ieyasu. Co-authored by Mike Poulton and Sho Kawai and directed by Gregory Doran, the production will feature a cast of British and Japanese actors, and will be spoken in both Japanese and English with surtitles.
The RSC is also teaming up with five partner theatres -- Hull Truck Theatre Company, Newcastle Theatre Royal, York Theatre Royal, Hall for Cornwall, and Nuffield Theatre, Southampton -- on a new touring and education partnership. It is intended to grow the success of the RSC's Learning and Performance Network (LPN), which currently has nearly 400 schools in areas of social and economic disadvantage, teaching Shakespeare in active ways which inspire young people. The partner theatres will use the successful "hub school and cluster" model, developed by the RSC for the LPN, to run three-year programs with schools in Hull, Middlesbrough, York, Cornwall and Southampton, offering training, development and performance opportunities for artists, students and teachers, supported by RSC practitioners. A new RSC YPS production of King Lear, adapted and directed by Tim Crouch, will tour all five locations this autumn (dates to be announced), and will also play in New York in a collaboration with Park Avenue Armory.
In a press statement, Vikki Heywood, RSC executive director, has added, "The RSC is on great form. We had fantastic summer and winter seasons last year. We are looking forward to an Olympic-sized summer, with the World Shakespeare Festival garnering interest from across the globe and offering audiences an exciting and diverse programme right across Britain, connecting the RSC to a world fascination with and celebration of Shakdespeare."
Booking for full RSC members will open online on Feb. 27, with phone bookings from Feb. 29; bookings for associate members open online March 12, with phone bookings from March 14; and public booking opens March 26. To book tickets, contact the box office on 0844 800 1110, or visit www.rsc.org.uk for more details.