Here are details straight from the RSC of their season into 2005.
A selection of Shakespeare plays, new work and an explosive Elizabethan/ Jacobean selection at the Swan.RSC ANNOUNCES STRATFORD 2005 FESTIVAL SEASON
· the RSC ensemble performs four of Shakespeare’s Comedies in
repertoire in the Royal Shakespeare Theatre;
· in the Swan theatre, Gunpowder a season of little known Jacobean
and Elizabethan political drama celebrates the 400th anniversary of the Gunpowder Plot,
culminating in a specially commissioned play by Frank McGuinness;
· at The Other Place theatre, two new plays by leading British
playwrights Zinnie Harris and David Greig explore responses to conflict;
* and the Company’s commitment to experiment, new talent and the
development of new writing continue with the second New Work Festival closing the Season.
Launching the RSC’s 2005 Stratford Festival Season, Artistic Director Michael Boyd has continued
his commitment to the ensemble, to training and to new work.
Building on his inaugural year as Artistic Director, the season capitalizes on the RSC’s ability to
explore big themes and bold ideas. The season includes a celebration of comedy, and a look at the
contemporary echoes in five plays linked to the 1605 Gunpowder Plot. In 2005, the Company’s
commitment to new work steps up a gear with a second New Work Festival and new plays by
Zinnie Harris and David Greig, which play in repertoire to counterpoint the Comedies.
Boyd also announced the launch of the biggest festival in the Company’s history. From April 2006,
the RSC will host a year-long Complete Works of Shakespeare Festival involving the RSC,
international companies and visiting UK professional and amateur groups. It is the first time that
Shakespeare’s entire canon has ever been performed together at the same event. As well as the expected range of plays, the festival will include Shakespeare’s sonnets, poems, and the
The Festival will play across all RSC theatres in Stratford and in other venues in the town, an
eclectic mix that will include film, opera, music and dance as well as theatre. The RSC has
appointed Deborah Shaw to lead the project formerly Director of the Bath Shakespeare Festival
and Artistic Director of the Chester Gateway.
Commenting on the season, Michael Boyd said:
This has been the first year steering the Company in a new direction. As well as clearing the deficit
from £2.8 million to under £½ million, the Tragedies have outperformed any previous Festival Season
at the box office. The adventurous Spanish Golden Age Season is more than matching our
Jacobean Season of two years ago. And we have re-commissioned The Other Place for this year’s
New Work Festival and a season of new plays next summer.
Pitched against contemporary events, our exploration of tragedy has been about hope as much as horror. Similarly, our comedies season is not just about laughter, but the yearning for harmony and reconciliation which lies at the heart of Shakespeare’s great comedies.
Shakespeare and his contemporaries were dramatists to England’s most conflicted times. Four
hundred years on from the Gunpowder Plot and three years on from 9/11 we’re trying to throw new
light on the schism in our own world with plays from both then and now.
2005 Festival Season in brief (full detail at back of release)
Following on from the Company’s examination of tragedy in 2004, the RSC ensemble will perform
four of Shakespeare’s comedies in repertoire in the Royal Shakespeare Theatre. The RST season,
led by Artistic Director Michael Boyd, includes: A Midsummer Night’s Dream, directed by Gregory
Doran; Twelfth Night, directed by Michael Boyd; The Comedy of Errors, directed by Nancy Meckler;
and As You Like It, directed by Dominic Cooke.
Playing opposite in the Swan theatre, Gunpowder is a season of explosive political drama headed
up by RSC Associate Director Gregory Doran. A follow-up to Doran’s award-winning 2002 season of
rare Elizabethan and Jacobean plays, the season includes: a Shakespeare apocrypha play, banned
in his lifetime; a satirical black comedy; a discovery play; and a political thriller – culminating with a
specially commissioned new play by Frank McGuinness.
The season celebrates the Swan theatre’s 20th year and ends on Bonfire Night, 5th November
2005, the 400th anniversary of the Gunpowder Plot. In order of opening, the plays are: Thomas More
by Shakespeare, Munday and Chettle; A New Way to Please You by Middleton, Rowley and
Massinger; Believe What You Will by Massinger; Sejanus His Fall by Jonson; and Speaking Like
Magpies by Frank McGuinness.
In The Other Place, RSC Associate Dominic Cooke continues to forge ahead with new work at the
RSC with plays by two of the UK’s strongest younger writers Zinnie Harris and David Greig in
productions cast from the RST Comedies ensemble. Zinnie Harris’ new play Solstice is her second
RSC commission and David Greig returns to the Company with The American Pilot following
Victoria which premiered in The Pit in 2000. Both plays are contemporary parables, which take a
sharp look at the forces shaping our world, combining atmospheric, poetic writing and a witty
lightness of touch.
The season will conclude with the Company’s second New Work Festival, demonstrating the RSC’s
continued commitment to experiment and the development of new writing.
The festival includes productions of two new plays: Breakfast With Mugabe by Fraser Grace,
commissioned by the RSC, which focuses on the relationship between Robert Mugabe and a
psychiatrist; and Eric La Rue by Chicago-based Brett Neveu a powerful play about the aftermath
of a school shooting in the United States. As in 2004, the Festival will include workshop
performances, work in progress and other events as well as full productions of new plays.
Update on 2004/5 Winter Season
Michael Boyd’s inaugural season as Artistic Director comes to a close with the return of the
successful family show Beauty and the Beast in the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, written and
directed by RSC Associate Director Laurence Boswell. Last year’s Christmas hit has been
redeveloped in a bold new version for 2005.
This production will be followed by Laurence Boswell’s new production of Euripides’ Hecuba in a
new version by Tony Harrison with Vanessa Redgrave in the title role. Hecuba will play in the RST
from January to March before transferring to the Albery at the end of the RSC’s London season in
April 2005. The London run will be followed by a tour to the United States, playing at the Kennedy
Center in Washington in May.
Playing opposite Hecuba in the Swan theatre, the double bill of Shakespeare plays Julius Caesar
and The Two Gentlemen of Verona (directed by David Farr and Fiona Buffini respectively) plays in
repertoire. Following the Swan run, these productions tour extensively to sports halls and
community centres throughout the UK.
At The Other Place, Gregory Doran’s new production of Shakespeare’s erotic poem Venus and
Adonis A Masque for Puppets, a collaboration with the Little Angel theatre in Islington with
Michael Pennington as the narrator. The production is inspired by both Japanese Bunraku puppets
and the Jacobean Court Masque.
In the Royal Shakespeare Theatre
A Midsummer Night’s Dream
By William Shakespeare
Directed by RSC Associate Director Greg Doran
The first production on the main stage is Shakespeare’s celebration of the power of love A
Midsummer Night’s Dream. Greg’s last RSC productions were Othello and All’s Well That Ends
Well in 2003/4.
Twelfth Night or What You Will
By William Shakespeare
Directed by RSC Artistic Director Michael Boyd
Michael Boyd directs his second main stage production since taking post as Artistic Director with
the dark comedy Twelfth Night.
Comedy of Errors
By William Shakespeare
Directed by Nancy Meckler
Nancy Meckler makes her RST directorial debut with Shakespeare’s first comic masterpiece. Her
last RSC production, The House of Desires, was much acclaimed as part of the 2004 Festival’s
Spanish Golden Age season.
As You Like It
By William Shakespeare
Directed by RSC Associate Director Dominic Cooke
Dominic Cooke follows his production of Macbeth for the 04 Festival season’s examination of
Tragedy with this much loved romantic comedy.
In the Swan Theatre
By Shakespeare, Munday and Chettle (late 1590s)
Directed by Robert Delamere
This banned’ play written by Shakespeare in collaboration with others deals with race riots and
dissent in London caused by asylum seekers from the Continent who have fled religious
persecution. Londoners see them as a threat to their employment and relationships. Thomas More
attempts to quell the uprising with wise words pleading for racial harmony.
A New Way to Please You (or The Old Law)
By Middleton, Rowley and Massinger (1618)
Directed by Sean Holmes
A black comedy dealing with Euthanasia the old law’ of the title is the edict demanding that old
men and women be put down’ as no longer being useful to society. At a time of our ageing
populations and the ongoing debate about the right to die’ this play has astonishing contemporary
Believe What You Will
By Philip Massinger (1631)
A discovery play dealing with a middle eastern leader who, in his attempt to seek sanctuary in a
series of middle eastern countries, is hounded from one to another by the Roman Empire who
threaten sanctions and ultimately war to any state which harbours such a terrorist’. Director to be
Sejanus His Fall
By Ben Jonson (1605)
Directed by Gregory Doran
A political thriller analyzing the politics of power through the murderous rise of Sejanus, the right
hand man to the decadent Emperor Tiberius. Written following the popularity of Shakespeare’s
Julius Caesar, its depiction of treason trials caused controversy when the play was first performed.
Jonson was hauled in front of the Privy Council suspected of treason himself because of the content
of the play.
Speaking Like Magpies
By Frank McGuinness
This specially commissioned play was inspired by the 400th anniversary of the Gunpowder Plot
the biggest act of terrorism in the Jacobean era. It defined the age as unstable, dangerous and
insecure and in this drama of black comedy, satire and daring political investigation, McGuinness
brings the Gunpowder season to a close.
At The Other Place
By Zinnie Harris
A family is riven by intergenerational conflict when forced to resettle by an oppressive state. Zinnie
Harris’s new play examines themes of faith and terror in a world slipping out of control.
The American Pilot
By David Greig
What happens when an American military man parachutes into a village in a poor enemy nation?
The American Pilot grapples with ideas of global disparity, mis-communication and the extent to
which we have all become Americans.
2005 New Work Festival includes two further world premieres
Breakfast with Mugabe
By Fraser Grace
The play follows Robert Mugabe and his relationship with a psychiatrist prior to the 2002 elections
in Zimbabwe. Fraser Grace was winner of the Verity Bargate Award for his play, Perpetua.
Eric La Rue
By Brett Neveu
Set in a Midwestern town following a school shooting, the play follows the efforts of the local pastor
in bringing together the mothers of the victims with the mothers of the perpetrators. The play
examines the collapse of consensus and dialogue in the US.