To coincide with and celebrate the 400 year anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, the RSC have just announced their 2016 spring/summer season. The Royal Shakespeare Theatre is set to feature a mixture of the works of the Bard himself, while the Swan Theatre runs a season exploring his contemporaries, creating an intriguing first impression of an exciting and intense year for Stratford-upon-Avon’s premier acting company.
In a teaser trailer starring Artistic Director, Gregory Doran, it was revealed the flagship production for next year will be a performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream: A Play for the Nation, directed by Deputy Artistic Director, Erica Whyman. Shakespeare’s comedy will be initially performed at the RSC, and then travel on tour around the country venturing to Nottingham from the 3rd-7th May 2016. This play for a nation will see different groups of amateur actors playing Bottom and the Mechanicals, and primary school children performing Titania’s fairies at every location, providing not just an opportunity to see the world-class actors of the RSC without leaving Nottingham, but also the chance to support local talent.
The flagship production for next year will be a performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream: A Play for the Nation.
Additionally, the RSC will also be staging Hamlet; directed by Simon Godwin and staring up-and-coming actor, Paapa Essiedu, it will be a production to rival Benedict Cumberbatch’s. Running from 12th March until 13th August 2016, there’s plenty of time to see Shakespeare’s masterpiece. The final production announced in the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, is the lesser known Cymbeline, which will be performed from the 29th April until the 12th August 2016. Directed by Melly Still, the play explores themes of jealousy and love, similar to Othello but is rarely performed – indeed, this will be its first outing at the RSC for ten years!
In the Swan Theatre, Christopher Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus will be the first to be performed in the new season. This tale of greed, magic, and religion will be playing from the 4th February until the 4th August 2016, directed by Maria Aberg. The second of the plays, Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervante, has been newly adapted for the stage by James Fenton, and will be directed by Angus Jackson to mark the anniversary of de Cervante, who died on the same day as Shakespeare! Performing from the 25th February until the 21st May 2016, the production will star David Threlfall in the title role, with comic Rufus Hound as Sancho Panza.
Shakespeare’s Contemporaries’ plays will include: Doctor Faustus, Don Quixote, and The Alchemist.
Finally, to celebrate not just 400 years since Shakespeare’s death, but 400 years since the first ever folio was published, the RSC will be performing Ben Jonson’s The Alchemist. Directed by Polly Findlay, the production will open on 26th May and close on the 6th August 2016 – concluding this season of varied and innovative plays.
Following a huge redevelopment programme, The Other Place, the RSC’s small studio theatre, will also be reopening in 2016 under the direction of Erica Whyman, who will explore new work and learning in this venue. The Swan Wing of the 1879 theatre will also be reopened in mid-2016 with a brand new exhibition designed to entice families into the RSC – and rumoured to be heavily costume based.
The play to conclude the season still remains a mystery.
Away from Stratford, in January, London’s Barbican Theatre will see the cycle of King and Country: Richard II, Henry IV Parts 1 and 2, and Henry V, Shakespeare’s greatest history plays being performed there for a limited time, before visiting China and the USA on tour.
As for the rest of 2016, Artistic Director, Gregory Doran, mentions directing King Lear, starring Anthony Sher in the title role – sure to be a stellar performance after Sher’s previously stunning roles as Richard III and Henry IV’s Falstaff. Keeping theatre lovers on their toes, Doran also cannot hide his excitement for the production ending this flagship year. The play’s identity, however, remains a mystery…
Whichever play it turns out to be, with a season of such high quality in the pipeline, the RSC cannot fail to attract audiences and the acclaim they consistently produce.
Image credited to AJ Leon via Flikr
To keep up to date with the season, visit RSC here.