Nunn Brings Student Prince Hamlet to Old Vic in AprDate: 6 February 2004
Trevor Nunn (pictured) will direct a new West End staging of Shakespeare’s Hamlet this spring. Played largely by young unknowns, still to be cast, the production is set to open at the Old Vic on 17 April 2004 for a limited season to 31 July, with booking opening on 16 February.
Earlier this week, Nunn won the Best Director prize in Whatsonstage.com’s Theatregoers’ Choice Awards for Shakespeare’s Love's Labour's Lost, his last production as artistic director of the National Theatre, as well as Anything Goes and, at the Almeida, The Lady from the Sea. His production of Skellig has just finished at the Young Vic, while his next musical blockbuster, the premiere of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Woman in White, will open at the West End’s Palace Theatre in September.
Prior the National, Nunn was also artistic director at the Royal Shakespeare Company, where he directed a 1970 production of Hamlet with Alan Howard in the title role and Helen Mirren as Ophelia. For the new West End outing, however, the 64-year-old director is drawing inspiration from his directorial debut at the age of 17, when he directed a youth company production of the play in his home town of Ipswich.
In today’s Daily Mail, Nunn explains: “Something extraordinary happens when the characters who are student in Shakespeare’s story are being played by people of exactly student age.”
And so, in the new production, he aims to have Hamlet played by someone aged 18 or 19, and Ophelia by some 15 or 16, with the prince’s mother Gertrude and stepfather Claudius in their mid-30s or early 40s. Although it is not specifically being set in modern times, the production is likely to be played in modern dress.
Meanwhile, back in Stratford-upon-Avon, the RSC’s current chief Michael Boyd, who took over from Adrian Noble in April 2003, will finally make his directorial debut as artistic director with his own production of Hamlet, which is expected to transfer in September to the company’s still-to-be-announced new London home (See News, 30 Sep 2003). Likely to look much different from Nunn’s interpretation, Boyd’s production will star Toby Stephens, who turns 35 in April, in the title role, with Meg Fraser as Ophelia, Sian Thomas as Gertrude and Clive Wood as Claudius.
Currently at the Old Vic, Birmingham Rep’s production of Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men, previously seen at the West End’s Savoy Theatre and now recast with Joe McGann and Andrew Schofield, is booking for a limited season to 3 April 2004. Currently at the Old Vic, Birmingham Rep’s production of Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men, previously seen at the West End’s Savoy Theatre and now recast with Joe McGann and Andrew Schofield, is booking for a limited season to 3 April 2004. Nunn’s Hamlet is presented by Old Vic Productions plc and Ron Kastner.
- by Terri Paddock