The winter season for 2014 and has now been released for the RSC. Here is their overview of what lies ahead in 2014.
Royal Shakespeare Theatre
A season commemorating the First World War
- LOVE’S LABOUR’S LOST and LOVE’S LABOUR’S WON (Much Ado About Nothing) a double-bill directed by Christopher Luscombe, broadcast live to cinemas and streamed free to schools
- THE CHRISTMAS TRUCE a new play by Phil Porter, based on real events in the First World War and directed by Deputy Artistic Director, Erica Whyman
Staging the work of Shakespeare’s contemporaries and new plays
- THE WITCH OF EDMONTON Artistic Director, Gregory Doran, concludes the ‘Roaring Girls’ season, directing Eileen Atkins in Rowley, Ford and Dekker’s domestic tragedy
- THE SHOEMAKER’S HOLIDAY Dekker’s festive city comedy of class, conflict and cobblers in love is directed by Phillip Breen
- OPPENHEIMER world premiere of Tom Morton-Smith’s new play about J. Robert Oppenheimer looks into the heart of the Manhattan Project to create the atom bomb, directed by Angus Jackson
Royal Shakespeare Theatre: 23 September 2014 – 14 March 2015
As part of a season marking the centenary of the First World War, Christopher Luscombe returns to the Royal Shakespeare Company to direct a single company of actors in a fresh pairing of two of Shakespeare’s most sparkling comedies, set in the shadow of war.
Love’s Labour’s Lost and Love’s Labour’s Won (usually known as Much Ado About Nothing) will play in repertoire in the Royal Shakespeare Theatre (RST) from October. Both productions will share a setting based on a splendid country house just before and just after the War, designed by Simon Higlett. Lighting design will be by Oliver Fenwick and music by Nigel Hess.
Returning to the RSC are Edward Bennett and Michelle Terry who will play the lovers in both productions: Berowne and Benedick and Rosaline and Beatrice in Love’s Labour’s Lost and Love’s Labour’s Won respectively. Edward was last at the RSC in Gregory Doran’s productions of Love’s Labour’s Lost, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Hamlet; he has more recently been in the touring production of One Man, Two Guvnors. Olivier award-winning actress Michelle was part of the RSC Complete Works productions in 2006 of Pericles and The Winter’s Tale. Other theatre credits include All’s Well That Ends Well and The Comedy of Errors (National Theatre). Michelle won the award for Best Actress in a Supporting role at the 2011 Olivier Awards for her portrayal of Sylvia in The Royal Court production of Tribes.
In Love’s Labour’s Lost, the mischievous Rosaline tests Berowne’s high-minded resolve in the summer of 1914. At the end of the play the merriment is curtailed as the lovers agree to submit to a period apart, unaware the world around them is about to be transformed by a war to end all wars. Love’s Labour’s Won begins four years later in the autumn of 1918 with a world-weary Benedick and Claudio returning from the trenches to a post-war house party, where Claudio falls in love with Hero and Benedick reignites his altogether more combative courtship with Beatrice. Youthful passions run riot before peace ultimately breaks out.
Christopher Luscombe makes his RSC directorial debut, having last appeared with the Company as an actor in 1997. His recent directing work includes The Merry Wives of Windsor and The Comedy of Errors for Shakespeare’s Globe, as well as Madness of George III and Spamalot in the West End.
Deputy Artistic Director, Erica Whyman, will direct the same company in her first production in the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, The Christmas Truce. This new, uplifting play, by Phil Porter, for families and audiences of all ages, has been specially commissioned for this season. The story is inspired by real events exactly 100 years ago, when soldiers along the Western Front left their trenches on Christmas Eve, carrying only their courage and humanity, to meet their enemies in No Man’s Land to talk, exchange gifts and, incredibly, play football. The production will be designed by Associate Designer, Tom Piper, with lighting by Charles Balfour and music by Sam Kenyon.
The Christmas Truce will draw on true stories of soldiers in the Warwickshire Regiment and in particular, the experiences of local cartoonist, Bruce Bairnsfather, who worked at the original Shakespeare Memorial Theatre as an electrical engineer, and whose famous comic creation ‘Old Bill’ was hugely popular with the troops.
As the RSC creates the production throughout this year, the Company invites local people and those with connections to the Regiment to help uncover and commemorate stories from the period. An Open House community day will be held at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre on Saturday 8 March from 10am to 3pm for people to share and discover more about their own First World War family history. A supporting exhibition about Bruce Bairnsfather will open in the PACCAR Room in the autumn.
Swan Theatre: 6 October 2014 – 7 March 2015
The RSC continues to stage the plays of Shakespeare’s contemporaries in the Swan Theatre. Extending the ‘Roaring Girls’ season, Gregory Doran will direct Eileen Atkins in a new production of the rarely-performed Jacobean domestic tragedy by Dekker, Ford and Rowley, The Witch of Edmonton, which will play in repertoire with an extended run of The White Devil, directed by Maria Aberg.
Eileen Atkins returns to the RSC in the title role of Elizabeth Sawyer, who is derided by her neighbours and accused of being a witch until she seeks revenge on those who have wronged her. Eileen last performed with the RSC in 1997 in The Unexpected Man with Michael Gambon. Her many credits include Cranford, for which she won a BAFTA and Emmy as well as Gosford Park. Her latest stage appearance is in Ellen Terry with Eileen Atkins at the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse in London. The production will be designed by Nikki Turner, with lighting by Associate Artist, Tim Mitchell, and music by Associate Artist, Paul Englishby.
The RSC’s winter season in the Swan continues with a very different Jacobean classic and the premiere of a new commission.
Thomas Dekker’s festive comedy The Shoemaker’s Holiday, produced for the first time by the RSC, will be directed by Phillip Breen, who directed The Merry Wives of Windsor for the Company in 2012. Written in 1599, in the dying years of Queen Elizabeth’s reign, it depicts a nation overshadowed by foreign wars and explores class, conflict and cobblers in love. When his father sends him to war to reform his ways, Rowland Lacy must take drastic action to avoid any chance of injury whilst secretly pursuing his love. He goes from riches to rags; losing himself among the craftsmen of London as he assumes the guise of a Dutch shoemaker at the shop of the larger-than-life Simon Eyre and his wife Margery, who are on their way from rags to riches.
The production will play in repertoire with Oppenheimer, a major new play written by Tom Morton-Smith about ‘the father of the atom bomb’, J. Robert Oppenheimer. As fascism spreads across Europe in 1939, theoretical physicists in California recognise the horrendous potential of atomic fission. The charismatic Oppenheimer spearheads the largest scientific undertaking in human history and races to win the battle of the laboratories to create a devastating weapon which could bring an end not only to the Second World War, but to all wars.
A history play for our times, Tom Morton-Smith’s Oppenheimer looks into the heart of the Manhattan Project, exploring the tension between scientific advances and the justification of their use during wartime and reveals the personal cost of achieving greatness. Tom Morton-Smith is a former writer in residence at Paines Plough, whose play In Doggerland, produced by Box of Tricks, toured the UK last autumn. His play Everyday Maps for Everyday Use was produced at the Finborough Theatre in December 2012. Angus Jackson, Associate Director at Chichester Festival Theatre, will direct his first production for the RSC.
If you are looking for a Bed & Breakfast in Stratford upon Avon to stay at when visiting the RSC we would gladly welcome you at Avonlea. We are just a 5 minute walk from the theatres and our comfy beds will ensure you have a good nights sleep after a day sightseeing. We will also serve you a freshly cooked local breakfast to set you up the next day.