RSC Announces London Season, 2000-01Date: 22 September 2000
The Royal Shakespeare Company return to their London base, the Barbican Centre, on Oct 19, after the regular summer break it now takes from the capital. Its two venues there, the Barbican Centre and The Pit, are filled during this time by BITE (Barbican International Theatre Event) that the centre's management produces itself and has become an insitution in its own right. (The British capital, meanwhile, barely notices the missing RSC, because Shakespeare is well provided for at two outdoor theatres, the Open Air Theatre in Regent's Park and Shakespeare's Globe on the South Bank, amongst others).
The RSC return to the Barbican Theatre, meanwhile, is not with a Shakespeare either, but with a new production of John Webster's The Duchess of Malfi, starring Aisling O'Sullivan in the title role; she also recently played another eponymous character, Miss Julie, at the West End's Theatre Royal, Haymarket. It opens on Oct 31, following previews from Oct 21. The Pit, however, offers a new production of The Tempest, featuring Zubin Varla as Caliban under the direction of James Macdonald. It begins performances on Oct 19, prior to opening Nov 1.
After straight runs of these two productions, to Nov 18, the RSC begin to transfer their current Stratford repertoire to London. Transferring to the Barbican Theatre will be The Comedy of Errors (in rep from Nov 29 to Feb 3), Sheridan's The Rivals (Dec 7 to Apr 17), and Romeo and Juliet (Jan 11 to Mar 8).
The Pit will see transfers of The Comedy of Errors (running in rep Nov 29 to Feb 3), As You Like It (Dec 12 to Feb 7), the Spanish play La Lupa (Jan 9 to Feb 24) and Shaw's Back to Methuselah (Feb 13 to Apr 5).
Also transferring from Stratford-upon-Avon will be the RSC's epic project to stage the entire eight-play cycle of Shakespeare's history plays, presented under the title This England - The Histories. The current Stratford-upon-Avon production of Richard II, starring Sam West in the title role, joins the rep in the Barbican Pit (Dec 17 to Apr 17), and is followed by the transfers to the Barbican Theatre of Henry IV Part 2 Parts One and Two (Feb 8 to Apr 18) and Henry V (Mar 15-Apr 21). New productions of the three parts of Henry VI and Richard II, scheduled to open in Stratford in December and February respectively, will then come down to London's Young Vic, where the RSC have previously had spring residencies, for a season that runs in rep from Mar 27 to May 26.
During this time, it will be possible to see the complete cycle of History plays simultaneously in London. The RSC's Artistic Director, Adrian Noble, has been quoted as saying: 'This will be an amazing opportunity for audiences to see English history unfolding before their eyes and the chance to follow the political and private lives of characters played by the same actors throughout more than one play.'