By Mark Shenton
10 Sep 2013
Productions will include Henry IV Parts I & II, starring Antony Sher as Falstaff (set to play in Stratford-upon-Avon, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, on a U.K. tour and at London's Barbican Theatre), The Two Gentlemen of Verona (the first RSC mainstage production of the play in 45 years) and a season of Jacobethan plays in Stratford-upon-Avon's Swan Theatre.
Artistic director Gregory Doran will direct Henry IV Parts I & II, continuing his six-year project to stage the entire first folio of 36 plays. Antony Sher, who was last seen as Prospero in the RSC's 2009 co-production of The Tempest wit the Baxter Theatre, will play Falstaff. He is joined by Ales Hassell as Prince Hal, Jasper Britton as Henry IV and Paolo Dionisotti as Mistress Quickly, amongst a cross-cast ensemble of actors. The productions will begin performances at Stratford-upon-Avon's Royal Shakespeare Theatre March 18, 2014, prior to an official opening April 16, and after playing in Stratford in rep through Sept. 6 will play at Newcastle-upon-Tyne's Theatre Royal and embark on a five week U.K. tour, before transferring to London's Barbican Theatre in December 2014.
The productions will be joined in rep by The Two Gentlemen of Verona. It will be directed by Simon Godwin, associate director of the Royal Court and Bristol Old Vic, who is making his RSC debut. It will begin performances July 12, prior to an official opening July 22, for a run through Sept. 4.
All three productions will be broadcast "Live from Stratford-upon-Avon" to cinemas around the world, through a continued partnership with Picturehouse Entertainment, and streamed free to schools, with the support of Ravensbourne College.
In the Swan Theatre, a season of three rarely performed Jacobethan plays will comprise Thomas Middleton and Thomas Dekker's The Roaring Girl, beginning performances April 9 prior to an official opening April 15, under the direction of Jo Davies; Arden of Faversham, beginning performances April 30 prior to an official opening May 6, under the direction of Polly Findlay; and John Webster's The White Devil, beginning performances July 30, prior to an official opening Aug. 5, directed by Maria Aberg. Also in the Swan, Camille O'Sullivan will reprise her performance in The Rape of Lucrece, originally performed as part of the Stratford re-opening and since seen as part of the Edinburgh and Sydney Festivals, beginning performances June 23 prior to an official opening June 24, for a run through July 4.
The RSC will also lead a nationwide celebration of Shakespeare over the next three years, building from the 450th anniversary of his birth on April 23, 2014, to the 400th anniversary of his death on April 23, 2016. These celebrations will culminate with a nationwide tour of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The production, which opens in Stratford-upon-Avon, will be co-produced with partner theatres and amateur companies in all 12 nations and regions of the U.K. In every location, Bottom and the rude mechanicals will be played by a local amateur group and Titania’s fairy train by local schoolchildren.
Priority booking opens Sept. 25, 2013, with public booking from Oct. 23. To book tickets, contact the box office on 0844 800 1110 or visit at www.rsc.org.uk.