Following in the recent footsteps of Judi Dench as well as her own brother, Vanessa Redgrave (pictured) will return to the Royal Shakespeare Company after a long absence - in her case, one of more than 40 years.

She’ll star in a production of Euripides’ ancient Greek classic, Hecuba, which will open at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in February 2005 (exact dates to be confirmed) before transferring to London that spring and on to the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC.

Dating from the fifth century BC, Hecuba tells the tragedy of the Queen of Troy and her family during the Trojan wars. It will be directed by RSC associate director Laurence Boswell, who staged the play in 1992 at London’s Gate Theatre and who is curating the RSC’s Spanish Golden Age which opens at Stratford next month.

Vanessa Redgrave’s last RSC performance was as Imogen in Cymbeline in 1992. She returns to the company in the same year that her brother, Corin Redgrave, plays the title role in Bill Alexander’s production of King Lear, which opens at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in June 2004 (See News, 18 Feb 2004).

Vanessa Redgrave is well known internationally for her myriad film credits, includin The Pledge, Girl, Interrupted, Mrs Dalloway, Mission: Impossible, Smilla's Sense of Snow, Howard's End, A Man for All Seasons, Mary, Queen of Scots and Murder on the Orient Express.

Her most recent London stage credits include, opposite her brother, The Cherry Orchard at the National and Song at Twilight in the West End, and at Shakespeare's Globe, The Tempest, in which she played Prospero.

Last year, she starred in the Broadway revival of Eugene O’Neill’s Long Day’s Journey into Night, which won her the 2003 Tony Award for Best Actress (See News, 9 Jun 2003). One of her competitors for the prize was fellow Briton Clare Higgins (for Vincent in Brixton), who, ironically, will soon star in a rival production of the rarely performed Euripides play.

The Donmar Warehouse’s production of Hecuba - in a new version by Frank McGuinness, directed by Jonathan Kent – runs at the London theatre from 9 September to 13 November 2004 (See News, 26 Mar 2004).

- by Terri Paddock