RSC Opens First Annual Stratford New Work FestDate: 28 September 2004
The Royal Shakespeare Company's first annual New Work Festival launches tomorrow (Wednesday 29 September 2004) and runs for the next fortnight, concluding Michael Boyd's inaugural season as artistic director (See News, 20 Apr 2004). Besides high-profile works from the likes of Zinnie Harris, Joanna Laurens and Ron Hutchinson the festival includes two new pieces comprising plays by local residents and school children, a comedy season and some interactive events.
The two-week festival, which finishes on 17 October 2004, features four world premieres - the first staged by the RSC since 2001. The first of these is Poor Beck by Joanna Laurens (Five Gold Rings) in The Other Place (TOP) studio space, which has been closed since 2001. The Swan Theatre hosts: Tynan based on the diaries of Kenneth Tynan and starring Corin Redgrave; Midwinter, written and directed by Harris (Further Than the Furthest Thing); and Ron Hutchinson's Head/Case, a co-production with Coventry's Belgrade Theatre.
TOP will also house The Pilate Workshop, a piece devised by the current Tragedies company and directed by Boyd. It uses all of the studio space (including offices, scene dock and rehearsal rooms) to explore the life of Pontius Pilate, starring Clive Wood with Toby Stephens as Jesus.
During the festival, TOP will also host a showcase glimpse of a new puppet-based adaptation of Shakespeare's poem Venus and Adonis, narrated by Michael Pennington and directed by Gregory Doran, ahead of a full-scale production at the Little Angel Puppet Theatre in Islington, north London (14 October to 6 November 2004) and a six-week run back at TOP at the end of the year.
Other big name highlights include theatrical debuts - both writing and performing - by Generation X author Douglas Coupland in the shape of September 10 2001 and political commentator Yasmin Alibhai-Brown's Tales of an Extravagant Stranger. There's also Debbie Tucker Green's work-in-progress on sex tourism trade (16 October) and -Visible (15 October), a new collaboration with homeless people’s theatre company Cardboard Citizens.
A number of community projects are also on offer, among them Trouble and Wonder (Wednesday 13 October). Following schools workshops conducted by the RSC, children were challenged to write a tragedy, and a selection of 20 resulting plays by ten-year-olds is presented in the RST, directed by Chris White and performed by members of the Spanish Golden Age Season.
Another children's show is Young People's Macbeth, which is performed by five members of the Tragedies company in schools, with several performances for the public in TOP (5 & 16 October). The residents of Stratford also get their say on Shakespeare in By the People, For the people (3 October), directed by Heather Davies.
The many other events include: tie-in readings of other Hutchinson plays (The Irish Play, Rat in a Skull); a BBC Radio 3 collaboration in Daughter of the Air, a play by Golden Age writer Calderon de la Barca translated by Sarah Woods; which will have a public performance on 8 October before being recorded for transmission (on 21 November); a new work concert; a symposium on playwriting; a comedy season (featuring Al Murray, Mark Thomas and Paul Merton amongst others); as well as events to coincide with National Poetry Day on 7 October and several events to help under 18's get writing.
- by Hannah Kennedy