Casting has been announced for the Royal Shakespeare Company’s two productions which precede the start of its year-long Complete Works festival, celebrating the work of the bard exclusively, in Stratford-upon-Avon: Arthur Miller’s The Crucible and Thomas Middleton’s Women Beware Women.

Miller’s thriller about the Salem witchcraft trials of the 17th century, which was written during America’s McCarthy era in 1953, runs at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre from 1 March to 19 March 2006 (previews from 16 February). Iain Glen (pictured) stars as John Proctor, alongside Elaine Cassidy as Abigail.

Glen last performed with the RSC in the 1994-5 season, when he played the title role in Henry V and Orgilus in Michael Boyd’s production of The Broken Heart. His other stage work includes The Seagull for the Edinburgh Festival, A Streetcar Named Desire at the National, The Blue Room with Nicole Kidman at the Donmar Warehouse, and most recently, Hedda Gabler at the Almeida and in the West End. His films include Gorillas in the Mist, Mountains of the Moon, Tombraider and Keeper of My Soul. On TV, he’s been seen in Trial and Retribution 2, Glasgow Kiss and The Fear.

Cassidy can currently be seen playing the lead in Channel 4’s police drama The Ghost Squad. Other television work includes Fingersmith. On stage, Cassidy has starred in the RSC’s The Lieutenant of Inishmore in the West End and Scenes from the Big Picture at the National.

The cast will also feature: The Vicar of Dibley’s Trevor Peacock (as Giles Corey); Robert Bowman (Reverand Hale), Ken Bradshaw (Ezekiel Cheever), Tim Chipping (Herrick), Ian Gelder (Parris), James Laurenson (Danforth), James Pearse (Hopkins), Clifford Rose (Francis Nurse), James Staddon (Thomas Putnam), John Stahl (Hathorne), Laura Elphistone (Susannah Walcott), Alison Garland (Mercy Lewis), Lorna Gayle (Tituba), Darlene Johnson (Rebecca Nurse), Susan McGoun (Sarah Good), Caroline O'Neill (Ann Putnam), Helen Schlesinger (Elizabeth Proctor), Catherine Skinner (ensemble), Michelle Terry (Mary Warren) and Zoe Thorne (Betty Parris). The production is directed by RSC associate director Dominic Cooke.

Meanwhile, fellow RSC associate director Laurence Boswell’s production of Women Beware Women, which runs at the Swan Theatre from 23 February to 1 April (previews from 16 February), will star Tim Pigott-Smith, Hayley Atwell and Emma Cunniffe alongside the previously announced Penelope Wilton.

Considered to be one of the greatest Jacobean tragedies, Middleton’s cautionary tale exposing the tragic results of corrupted lives and materialism was written in the 1600s and is based on an historical incident from 16th-century Italy.

Wilton plays the scheming widow Livia. She recently appeared in the National Theatre’s production of Lorca’s The House of Bernarda Alba. Her last appearance at the RSC was as Madame Arkadina in Adrian Noble’s production of The Seagull (Swan/Barbican 2000). Wilton’s TV and film credits include Doctor Who and Calendar Girls.

Pigott-Smith plays the Duke of Florence. An associate artist and a board member of the RSC, his recent stage work includes Hecuba for the Donmar Warehouse, Mourning Becomes Electra at the National and Julius Caesar for the RSC in 2001. His film and TV appearances include North and South, The Vice, Kavanagh QC and Remains of the Day.

Atwell makes her RSC debut as Bianca. She will soon appear in Andrew Davies’ adaptation of Alan Hollinghurst’s Man Booker Award winning novel, The Line of Beauty, for the BBC. Cunniffe also makes her RSC debut as Isabella in the production. On television she has been seen in The Lakes, Great Expectations, The Innocents, Love Or Money, Flesh and Blood and Cherished.

The cast also includes Jonathan Bex (Lord), Elliot Cowan (Leantio), Julian Curry (Fabritio), Trevor Allan Davies, Rob Edwards (Hippolito), Peter Guinness (Guardiano), Morgan James, Bruce Mackinnon (the Ward), Leon Ockenden (nessenger), Paul Rider (Sordido), Michael Thomas (Lord Cardinal), Mary Chater (Hymen), Susan Engel (widow), Gesella Ohaka (Hebe) and Claudia Renton (Ganymede).

- by Caroline Ansdell