Trevor Nunn and Ian McKellen will team up for a new Royal Shakespeare Company production of Chekhov’s The Seagull, following their previously announced RSC collaboration on King Lear (See News, 11 Jul 2005), as part of a two-play repertoire in Stratford-upon-Avon, prior to a world tour from March 2007.

The prolific director, who next month directs the world premiere of Tom Stoppard’s latest play Rock 'n' Roll at the Royal Court ahead of the West End, was artistic director of the RSC from 1968 to 1986. He returns to Stratford for the first time in 15 years for the pair of productions. King Lear, in which McKellen takes the title role (pictured), will be the closing production in the RSC’s year-long Complete Works festival. In The Seagull, the actor will play Sorin.

Written in 1896, The Seagull is a play of aspiration and failure. Nina aspires to be an actress, Konstantin a writer. Madame Arkadina and Trigorin are already these things. Can the young people's dreams come true or will they sour when confronted with the adult world?

In a statement, Nunn said: “For many years now, I have been hoping to return to my theatrical roots in the RSC, and for even longer, I have been looking forward to the fulfilment of the vow Ian McKellen and I made that one day we would do King Lear together. Add to that the fact that we both believe in ensemble work playing in repertoire, and you have the background of this exciting plan to perform these two plays with the same cast in Stratford-upon-Avon.”

Full cast and repertoire details are yet to be announced. Public booking for King Lear and The Seagull opens in September 2006.

- by Caroline Ansdell