An Olivier Award-winning actress and director who is noted for her physical theatre work, Hunter was appearing as part of the company's ten-week residency at the Roundhouse in London and has been with the RSC’s 'long ensemble' since January 2009, starring in Antony and Cleopatra (as Cleopatra opposite Darrell D'Silva’s Antony) and King Lear (as the Fool).
After initially opening in Stratford-upon-Avon at the temporary Courtyard Theatre, the ensemble visited New York prior to London. They will return to Stratford this year to reopen the RSC’s theatre home base after a four-year, £112.8 million redevelopment, with King Lear, starring Greg Hicks in the title role, the first production in the new Royal Shakespeare Theatre (23 February-2 April) and Antony and Cleopatra in the Swan (2-23 March).
Artistic director Michael Boyd and Kathryn Hunter released a joint statement, saying: "We have not been able to achieve together the full range of ambitions that we shared. We share the disappointment that Kathryn will not be with the company for the Roundhouse season and for the remaining life of the company, and continue to share a mutual regard and respect."
The news, which comes on the day that King Lear is due to open at the Roundhouse, means that the Fool will now be played by Sophie Russell, while Cleopatra will be taken over by Katy Stephens, who won a Whatsonstage.com Award for Best Actress two years ago for her roles in the RSC’s Histories at the Roundhouse. According to the RSC statement, both have understudied the roles and are fully rehearsed.