Familiar faces, lots of new ones and a mix of classic theatre, contemporary performance, comedy and ideas take to the Nuffield stage this autumn, spilling out into the city and even on board ship.

Curtain raiser to the season is Hampshire Youth Theatre’s Voyage of Lost Dreams on board the heritage ship SS Shieldhall – there’s a surprise lurking round every corner! The Nuffield then welcomes the RSC with a pared-down version of King Lear, with Paul Copley as Lear and a cast of younger company members including Debbie Korley as Cordelia.

Max Stafford-Clark and Out of Joint have revived Our Country’s Good, based on Thomas Kenneally’s The Playmaker and written by Timberlake Wertenbaker. And English Touring Theatre bring a W Somerset Maugham play, The Sacred Flame, directed by Matthew Dunster, whose production of Mogadishu wowed audiences last season. Beautiful Burnout, Frantic Assembly’s no-holds-barred exploration of the world of a young boxer, returns to the south, with music by Underworld, who scored some of the Olympic opening ceremony.

In house Nuffield Theatre Company productions this season are Tiger Tail, originally filmed as Baby Doll, is the British premiere of Tennessee Williams’ own adaptation. The steamy sexy world of Tennessee Williams is once again explored by the creative team, led by director Patrick Sandford, who scored success with A Streetcar Named Desire.

By complete contrast, for Christmas Patrick directs Treasure Island – complete with parrots, pirates and pieces of eight, promising to be colourful, musical and a great family treat.

There is a whole programme of events for younger children throughout the autumn, and comedy from stand-ups like Arthur Smith and Ava Vidal.

Special events include Flown, circus-with-a-twist from Pirates of the Carabina, a city-wide ‘ticket to ride’ street piece You Once Said Yes, and Periplum’s The Art of Demonstration, a colourful and commanding exploration of how we confront those in power, in Guildhall Square.

Tickets for the season are now available from the Box Office.