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Trevor Nunn revives Wars of the Roses trilogy at Kingston Rose

Nunn told WhatsOnStage the production is a tribute to the work of its creators John Barton and Peter Hall

Trevor Nunn
© Dan Wooller

Trevor Nunn is reviving John Barton and Peter Hall's landmark Shakespearean trilogy The Wars of the Roses at the Rose Theatre, Kingston later this year.

Adapted from Shakespeare's Henry VI Parts I, II & III and Richard III, the cycle was first produced to great acclaim at the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1963 - this is its first revival since.

Speaking to WhatsOnStage, Nunn said: "I was lucky enough to be in the audience at Stratford-upon-Avon when the production was first performed, and it was an absolutely astonishing achievement. Doing a revival is a way that I can celebrate the extraordinary careers of my great friends John Barton and Peter Hall."

But he emphasised the production at the Rose, which runs from 3 to 31 October 2015 (previews from 16 September), will not be a "replica" of the original, which featured a cast including Peggy Ashcroft, Donald Sinden and Ian Holm.

Nunn, who has never directed the Henry VI plays or Richard III before, said it was "thrilling" to be staging the plays in a venue modelled on the original Rose, where they were first performed.

'Shakespeare invented the box set'

The production will reunite Nunn with his long term collaborator designer John Napier who, with Mark Friend, will "transform the Rose's auditorium".

The acting company will comprise over 20 professional actors, combined with a local community chorus to complete the ensemble. It will be the largest company to play the Rose's stage since the theatre opened in 2008.

Chief executive Robert O'Dowd commented: "It's a major event to stage this production, 50 years on from the original incarnation. It's a vital piece of work, and we are honoured to bring it afresh to a new generation of theatregoers with tickets starting at just £5."

The Wars of the Roses features three plays - Henry VI, Edward IV and Richard III, edited from the original Shakespearean texts.

Nunn, who succeeded Hall as RSC artistic director from 1968 to 1986, added: "These plays remain urgent and relevant and capable of making us think 'oh god, we're still doing the same things, we're still resorting to battle and bloodshed'. The plays really investigate that instinct of why we resort to war."

He drew a comparison with the popularity of long-running sagas such as Game of Thrones. "Shakespeare invented the box set... These plays were written as a cycle."

Look out for our full interview with Trevor Nunn