RSC Announces Stratford Summer SeasonDate: 14 January 1999
Ten new productions will form the Royal Shakespeare Company's first new-style Summer Festival Season, playing from 17 March to 9 October 1999 in all three of the RSC's theatres in Stratford-upon-Avon. The season will include a broad repertoire of Shakespeare, 17th century drama, a European classic, work by two of the 20th century's most influential poets and three world premieres.
The acting company for the summer season will include some of Britain's leading stage and screen actors - including Alan Bates, Frances de la Tour, Malcolm Storry, John Woodvine and Josette Simon - as well as many young, up and coming stars such as Zoe Waites, Ray Fearon and Rupert Penry-Jones.
The stage of Royal Shakespeare Theatre will be redesigned for the festival season with an elliptical stage that aims to create a more intimate playing arena within the traditional auditorium. This common stage will be shared by the RSC's associate directors and four different designers for the Shakespeare productions in repertoire. Michael Boyd's production of A Midsummer Night's Dream will open the season, and Michael Attenborough will direct Othello as his first main stage production for the company. Gregory Doran will direct Alan Bates in the title role of Timon of Athens, the first RSC main stage production of the piece since 1965.
And Steven Pimlott will direct Bates and Frances de la Tour in, perhaps, one of the most closely watched productions of the season. Pimlott's Antony and Cleopatra will be inevitably matched against this year's equally star-studded but critically flawed Royal National Theatre production of the classic love story, featuring Helen Mirren and Alan Rickman. Comparisons are certain to be drawn further than normal as Bates was originally scheduled to play opposite Mirren at the RNT.
The Swan Theatre will see work by three of the greatest English language poets. Lindsay Posner will direct Ben Jonson's Volpone as his first production for the RSC. This is followed by the world premiere of the recently deceased Ted Hughes' Tales from Ovid, adapted for the stage by Tim Supple (who also directs) and Simon Reade. And RSC artistic director Adrian Noble will direct T S Eliot's The Family Reunion.
Finally, at The Other Place, Gregory Doran will direct Biyi Bandele's new version of Aphra Behn's Oronooko, the first complete dramatisation of Behn's entire novel. Gale Edwards will direct Friedrich Schiller's classic Don Carlos, and Alison Sutcliffe will direct a new play by April de Angelis, A Warwickshire Testimony, which was specially commissioned by the RSC and involved more than 30 local contributors.