RSC's New Artistic Director Gregory Doran Announces Inaugural Season, Including Return of David Tennant

By Mark Shenton
January 23, 2013

David Tennant will return to the Royal Shakespeare Company, of which he is now also a board member, to play the title role in Richard II in October 2013, as part of the inaugural season under the company's new artistic director Gregory Doran.





Richard II will also see the RSC returning to its previous London home of the Barbican Theatre when it transfers there in December.

In the first announcement by Doran and his executive director Catherine Mallyon as leaders of the RSC, it was revealed that Richard II will begin a new cycle of Shakespeare History plays that Doran will direct over the coming seasons. The collaboration between Doran and Tennant follows on from their 2008 collaboration on Hamlet, which was subsequently filmed for BBC television by Illuminations, and they will be joined by Oliver Ford Davies who also appeared in that production.  It will begin performances at Stratford-upon-Avon's Royal Shakespeare Theatre Oct. 10, prior to an official opening Oct. 17, for a run through Nov. 16, before transferring to London's Barbican Theatre, where it will begin performances Dec. 9 for a run through Jan. 25, 2014.

Richard II will be followed at Stratford's Royal Shakespeare Theatre by the world premiere of Ella Hickson's Wendy & Peter Pan, a fresh perspective on J.M. Barrie's children's classic, that continues the RSC tradition of family Christmas shows that has previously included the premieres of The Mouse and His Child, The Hart of Robin Hood and Matilda. It will begin performances Dec. 10, prior to an official opening Dec. 17, for a run through March 2, 2014.

In the Swan Theatre at Stratford-upon-Avon, a double bill of new theatrical adaptations of Man Booker Prize-winning novels by Hilary Mantel will receive their world premieres. Adapted for the stage in two parts by Mike Poulton, Wolf Hall will begin performances Dec. 11 and Bring Up the Bodies will begin performances Dec. 19, prior to an official opening for both in a double press day Jan. 8, 2014. Commissioned by Playful Productions, it is directed by Jeremy Herrin (associate director at the Royal Court where he is currently represented by Polly Stenham's No Quarter and is also represented in London by his production of This House at the National that resumes its run by transferring from the Cottesloe to the Olivier Theatre in February).

According to press materials, the two plays paint the compelling portrait of the political rise to power of Thomas Cromwell in the Tudor Court. "Wolf Hall" won the Man Booker in 2009, and "Bring up the Bodies" won in 2012. The latter also won the Costa Novel Award, the first time the same novel has won both this and the Man Booker.

Erica Whyman, who is to take up a new role as deputy artistic director following seven years as artistic director and chief executive at Northern Stage, has special responsibility for leading the revitalization of The Other Place in Stratford as an experimental studio and home for new work, as well as playing an active part in forging new artistic collaborations and directing productions.

In a press statement, she has said, "The Other Place has always seemed to me to embody a philosophy as much a physical space and I want to continue its rich culture of innovation and celebration as we create a new place for artists to experiment, encounter each other and encounter Shakespeare.  I am looking forward exploring the TOP ethos and the extraordinary legacy of Buzz Goodbody, as we grow our relationships with theatre-makers, local, national and international, creating work with a sense of radical mischief and festivity, building on all that’s gone before and celebrating the theatre that we can make now. We've secured planning permission to retain the Courtyard structure and to remodel the interior to create a small scale studio theatre, two new rehearsal rooms and to allow us to move our costume store into the former auditorium, opening it up to the public for the first time.  We’ll work on raising the capital to undertake the work and developing an operating model which will allow us to run it sustainably, but in the meantime, audiences can expect to see TOP work beginning to emerge in various forms from 2014, which is after all, the 40th anniversary of the founding of The Other Place."

In Doran's own statement, he has said, "I want us to produce the best possible live experience of Shakespeare for audiences of all ages and backgrounds and provide the most stimulating environment possible for creative artists to practise their craft.  I have always thought of the RSC as a Shakespeare "gymnasium." This winter season acts as a prologue to a wider plan, stretching forward over the next five years. I hope we will work through the entire canon, producing all his plays in our new Royal Shakespeare Theatre, but without repeating the titles in that time. The Swan will be dedicated largely to looking at the stable of writers who worked alongside Shakespeare; to the plays which inspired him and which he inspired; and to writing which matches his scale and ambition, providing a deeper context to the genius of our house playwright. 2014 is Shakespeare's 450th birthday and 2016 marks the quatercentenary of his death in 1616.  We will celebrate Shakespeare's life, from birth to grave, over an arc of three years, culminating in a major nationwide event in 2016.



To book tickets for Stratford-upon-Avon, which are on sale for full RSC members from Feb. 11, to associate RSC members from March 4 and to the public from March 18, contact the box office on 0844 800 1110, or visit www.rsc.org.uk for more details.  

Priority booking for Richard II at the Barbican Theatre from is on sale for Barbican and RSC members from March 7, with public booking from March 18. To book tickets, contact the box office on 0845 120 7511 or visit barbican.org.uk/theatre or www.rsc.org.uk