Royal Shakespeare Theatre
The new Royal Shakespeare Theatre – which resumed performances this month after a three-and-a-half year, £112.8 million redevelopment – will receive its first large-scale family show in November with the premiere of The Heart of Robin Hood, in a straight run from 1 December 2011 to 7 January 2012 (previews from 17 November). Written by RSC associate David Farr and directed by Gisli Orn Gardarsson, co-founder of Iceland’s Theatre Vesturport, the swashbuckler turns the Robin Hood tales on their head by focusing on Maid Marion, who must convince Robin to listen to his heart to save the country.
In the new year, it’s followed, from 25 January to 18 February 2012 (previews from 19 January), by The Taming of the Shrew, which is directed by Lucy Bailey and which embarks on a six-week UK tour after Stratford.
The world premiere of David Edgar’s Written on the Heart, running in rep from 2 November 2011 to 10 March 2012 (previews from 27 October), kicks off the new schedule in the Swan. Part of this year’s celebrations of the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible, the play explores the hazards faced and legacy left by the book’s earliest translators. RSC chief associate Gregory Doran directs. Continuing the biblical theme, Song of Songs, inspired by the erotic verse of Song of Solomon in the King James Bible will be staged for three performances only in February.
Written on the Heart is joined in rep by Roxana Silbert’s new production of Measure for Measure (23 November to 10 March, previews from 17 November), her first Shakespeare for the RSC, and the premiere of Helen Edmundson’s The Heresy of Love (8 February to 9 March, previews from 2 February), directed by Nancy Mecklerr. Edmundson’s new play is inspired by the life of 17th-century female playwright Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz, whose House of Desires was directed by Meckler as part of the RSC’s Spanish Golden Age in 2004.
Birthday bash continues
The rolling programme of RSC 50 play readings from the company’s back catalogue, talks and special events continues throughout the winter. Further highlights include weekends hosted by playwrights Tanika Gupta and Mark Ravenhill, a rehearsed reading of Christopher Hampton’s Les Liaisons Dangereuses , talks with Willy Russell on Educating Rita and Howard Davies on the creation of the Warehouse in London (now the Donmar Warehouse), celebrations of RSC musicals and Nicholas Nickleby, a screening of Peter Brook’s production of US and a birthday party for the late Harold Pinter.
Speaking today about the new winter season, and the months leading up to it in the reopened RST and Swan theatres, RSC artistic director Michael Boyd said: “It’s been an extraordinary first few months in our new home. Actors and audiences alike have warmed to the new spaces in ways we had hardly dared dream of. We’re looking forward to the first new productions designed specifically for the new Royal Shakespeare Theatre and improved Swan Theatre stages which open our 50th Birthday Season.
“The celebrations continue throughout the year with our winter season which we announce today. I’m especially proud that we’ve been able to put new work at its heart – by revealing hidden riches of our back catalogue and by new commissions. Great writers and directors have always been at the core of the company, shaping our future while being inspired by the classical repertoire, and this season is no exception.”