Hawthorne plays the title role in King Lear, directed by acclaimed Japanese director Yukio Ninagawa. The production will open in Japan in September before transferring to the Barbican in London from 22 October to 20 November and then to the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford, from 3 December through 26 February 2000.
Hawthorne is best known in the UK for his role as the obstructive civil servant Sir Humphrey Appleby in the successful television series Yes Minister and Yes Prime Minister, for which he won four BAFTA awards. His film credits include The Madness of King George, Amistad and the upcoming The Clandestine Marriage. His last major stage role was in the 1989 production of Shadowlands, about the doomed marriage of C S Lewis, which ran in the West End and on Broadway.
Hawthorne will be joined in the cast by William Armstrong (Edmund), Christopher Benjamin (Kent), Anna Chancellor (Regan), John Carlisle (Gloucester), Simon Chandler (Albany), Michael Maloney (Edgar), Nicholas Tennant (Oswald) and Japanese actor Hiroyuki Sanada (The Fool). King Lear is designed by Yukio Horio with costumes by Josaburo Tsujimura and Lily Komine, lighting by Tamotsu Harada, music by Ryudo Uzaki, sound by Masahiro Inoue and choreography by Suketaro Hanayagi.
Meanwhile, Antony Sher takes on another title role, in a new production of Macbeth, directed by RSC associate director Gregory Doran, which opens at Stratford's Swan Theatre on 3 November 1999 and runs until March 2000. Sher, an associate actor with the RSC, was most recently seen in the company's productions of The Winter's Tale and Cyrano de Bergerac, which also ran in the West End.
Lindsay Posner will direct the RSC's new production of The Taming of the Shrew, which will open first at the Barbican Pit in London (20 October to 20 November 1999) before transferring to the Swan Theatre from 2 December 1999 to 15 January 2000. The Taming of the Shrew marks the twentieth anniversary of the RSC's unique regional tour. Following its run in Stratford, the production will visit leisure centres and school halls across the UK and will then embark on an international touring schedule which will include Hong Kong.
Lee Hall, the RSC writer in residence since March, has translated Goldoni's The Servant of Two Masters, which will open at The Other Place on 8 December 1999 and run until 22 January 2000. Hall recently minted a highly acclaimed adaptation of Brecht's Mr Puntila and His Man Matti for the Almeida. The new Goldoni adaptation, a co-production between the RSC and the Young Vic Theatre, is directed by Tim Supple, artistic director at the Young Vic whose recent works include the world premiere stage adaptation of Ted Hughes' Tales from Ovid, currently playing at the Swan Theatre, and Salman Rushdie's Haroun and the Sea of Stories at the National. Following the Stratford run, The Servant of Two Masters will transfer to the Young Vic in London from 31 January to 11 March 2000.
The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, adapted by Adrian Mitchell and directed by RSC artistic director Adrian Noble, returns to the Royal Shakespeare Theatre after sell-out seasons there and in London. It runs 11 November 1999 to 5 March 2000.
Booking for the RSC's winter season opens 7 June 1999.