Currently running in the Swan Theatre in Stratford, Gunpowder builds on the success of the two ‘new-old play’ experiments, the 2002 Olivier award-winning Jacobean season and last year’s Spanish Golden Age season, both of which also had West End stints. Headed by RSC associate director Gregory Doran, the season features four Jacobean and Elizabethan plays never before performed by the RSC - Thomas More (partly written by Shakespeare), A New Way to Please You, Believe What You Will and Sejanus: His Fall (pictured) - as well as the world premiere of Irish playwright Frank McGuinness’ new related political drama Speaking Like Magpies.
Trafalgar Studios – which, at 400 seats carved out of the former Whitehall Theatre, is a similar size to the Swan in Stratford - was inaugurated in June 2004 with the RSC’s 2003/4 Swan production of Othello, starring Antony Sher and Sello Maake ka Ncube and directed by Doran, which had an extended run there (See News, 2 Apr 2004).
Commenting on the RSC’s return to the theatre with Gunpowder, the company’s executive director Vikki Heywood said: “We were delighted to open the Trafalgar Studios in 2003 with a sell-out run of Gregory Doran’s production of Othello. The venue proved then that it works well for transfers from the Swan theatre so it’s a wonderful opportunity to be able to return with our acclaimed Gunpowder season. We look forward to welcoming our audiences in the capital who will be able to see nine RSC productions as part of our London season this year.”
The schedule of the five Gunpowder plays at Trafalgar Studios is as follows:
- by Terri Paddock
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