Antony Sher
Antony Sher
The Royal Shakespeare Company's artistic director Gregory Doran and executive director Catherine Mallyon have today announced the company's 2014 Summer season, their first full season of programming since taking over.

Royal Shakespeare Theatre

Antony Sher will play Falstaff in Henry IV Parts I & II in the Royal Shakespeare Theatre from 18 March to 6 September 2014 in a production directed by Doran. Sher last performed for the RSC in The Tempest in 2009, and is currently starring in Hysteria at the Hampstead Theatre.

The productions will transfer to the Barbican Centre in December 2014 as part of a new three-year deal, following the transfer of Richard II starring David Tennant this December.

Doran said of the partnership that the companies are "dating but not yet announcing wedding plans". The two organisations will also collaborate on a creative learning programme.

Henry IV also features in the cast Alex Hassell (A Midsummer Night's Dream, Cardenio) as Prince Hal, Jasper Britton (Marat/Sade) as Henry IV and Paola Dionisotti (King John, Richard III) as Mistress Quickly.

Henry IV will run concurrently with Two Gentleman of Verona directed by Simon Godwin, as part of a focus on Shakespeare's early years. The first time the play has been performed on the RST stage in 45 years, it will run from 12 July to 4 September 2014.

Swan Theatre

In the Swan Theatre there will be a series of productions under the banner "Roaring Girls", centred around roles for women. Programmed by RSC deputy artistic director Erica Whyman, the season of three rarely performed Jacobean plays includes The Roaring Girl, Arden of Faversham and The White Devil.

The repertoire opens with Thomas Middleton and Thomas Dekker's The Roaring Girl, directed by Jo Davies, which runs from 9 April to 30 September 2014.

The second play in the season is Arden of Faversham, which will be directed by Polly Findlay, and runs from 30 April to 2 October 2014.

The final play in the season is John Webster's The White Devil, running from 30 July to 4 October 2014, which will be directed by Maria Aberg.

The "Roaring Girls" season will also include a limited run of the RSC's award-winning production of The Rape of Lucrece, running from 23 June to 4 July 2014.

Whyman is also overseeing the return of The Other Place, which will be housed in the former Courtyard Theatre. Although plans are still in their "infancy", she said today it will house mini-festivals throughout the year with a focus on the avant-garde and the development of new work.

Shakespeare Nation

The RSC will also lead a nationwide celebration of Shakespeare over the next three years, marking the 450th anniversary of his birth on 23 April 2014 and the 400th anniversary of his death on 23 April 2016.

The celebrations will see the RSC's work in Stratford-upon-Avon, London, Newcastle upon Tyne as well as on national and international tours, and will culminate in 2016 with "Dream 16", a nationwide tour of A Midsummer Night's Dream.

The production will be co-produced with partner theatres and amateur companies in all twelve regions and nations of the UK, with local amateur groups playing the mechanicals and local schoolchildren playing Titania's fairy train.

Gregory Doran said of the new season - the first to be programmed by him since taking over from Michael Boyd in September 2012: "As we approach the jubilee years of 2014 and 2016, I want to give people the strongest possible reasons to visit us in Stratford-upon-Avon, Shakespeare's home town, and restate our commitment to Shakespeare at the core of our work, putting his plays in conversation with each other and with the work of other classical writers and today's playwrights."