The Royal Shakespeare Company may be firing on nearly all cylinders again with programming in Stratford, Newcastle and London (See News, 15 Jul 2004), as well as a renewed touring schedule (See News, 14 May 2004), but they won’t be alone in taking the bard’s work across the country this autumn.

English Touring Theatre, Out of Joint and Theatre Royal Plymouth will be mounting their own major tours of, respectively, Twelfth Night, Macbeth and Hamlet, all launching in September.

First out of the blocks is ETT’s Twelfth Night, which opens on 9 September 2004 at the Oxford Playhouse before continuing, until 30 October, to Brighton, Salford, York, Buxton, Yvonne Arnaud and Durham. ETT’s eleventh Shakespeare is directed by the company’s artistic director Stephen Unwin, with a cast that includes Geoffrey Beevers, Susan Brown, Michael Cronin, Robert Lister, Des McAleer, Georgina Rich, Catherine Walker and Alan Williams.

Macbeth (pictured), directed by Out of Joint artistic director Max Stafford-Clark will be a promenade production, often performed in non-traditional theatrical venues. It opens on 10 September 2004 at the Red Brick Mill in Batley before continuing to Oxford, Bolton, Aberystwyth and Manchester, where it concludes on 13 November. The schedule also includes a four-week engagement at London’s Arcola Theatre, as well as one final date still to be confirmed.

The cast features Danny Sapani (His Dark Materials at the National, Julius Caesar at the Globe) as Macbeth and Monica Dolan (She Stoops to Conquer, A Laughing Matter for OJO and the National) as Lady Macbeth. The production is designed by Es Devlin.

Last but not least, esteemed Japanese director Yukio Ninagawa directs Michael Maloney (King Lear, Mouth to Mouth and Truly Madly Deeply on film) in the new English-language production of Hamlet, which opens at Plymouth’s Theatre Royal on 27 September 2004 before continuing, until 11 December, to Norwich, Poole, Edinburgh, Salford, Nottingham and Bath. It will also run for three weeks, from 10 to 27 November, at London’s Barbican Theatre.

Hamlet is the third of three collaborations, in a three-year UK-wide bard initiative launched in summer 2002 by the Theatre Royal and West End producer Thelma Holt with the aim of bringing Shakespeare to a wider UK audience (See News, 25 Jun 2002). It follows productions of The Tempest, starring Richard Briers, and The Taming of the Shrew, starring Ross Kemp.

- by Terri Paddock