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New RSC season to include The Tempest starring Alex Kingston

The company is marking the 400th anniversary of the First Folio

RSC's acting artistic director Erica Whyman
(© RSC, photo by Joe Bailey )

RSC acting artistic director Erica Whyman has announced details of the company’s programming for 2023.

Next year marks the 400th anniversary of the publication of Shakespeare’s First Folio, and in response, the RSC will stage five titles that would have been lost if the First Folio had not been published in 1623 – The Tempest, Julius Caesar, Cymbeline, As You Like It and Macbeth

They will run consecutively in the Royal Shakespeare Theatre from January to October 2023 in a break from the company’s usual repertory model, kicking off from 26 January to 4 March with Elizabeth Freestone's production of The Tempest. It stars Alex Kingston (Doctor Who), who returns to the RSC, as Prospero, alongside Jessica Rhodes making her company debut as Miranda.

Next up is Julius Caesar, directed by Atri Banerjee in his RSC debut. The production premieres in Stratford from 18 March to 8 April, and will visit nine venues across the country including RSC Partner Theatres. It will feature a Community Leaders Chorus made up of six women from each location on the UK tour.

Venues will include the Marlowe Theatre Canterbury, Hall for Cornwall in Truro, The Alhambra in Bradford, Theatre Royal Newcastle, The Grand Theatre in Blackpool, Theatre Royal Nottingham, Theatre Royal Norwich, Theatre Royal in York and The Lowry, Salford.

Gregory Doran, RSC artistic director emeritus, will direct his 50th production for the RSC with a new staging of Cymbeline (22 April to 27 May). This will mark a personal milestone for Doran, who will complete his journey to direct every Shakespeare play featured in the First Folio. 

In July 2023, Paul Ainsworth directs the RSC's young company of 13 to 18-year-olds recruited from across the country, to present their abridged interpretation of Hamlet. Rounding off the season will be Omar Elerian's "playful and provocative" take on As You Like It, which runs in summer 2023 (dates to be announced). 

Whyman, who will be succeeded next June by new joint artistic directors Daniel Evans and Tamara Harvey, said: "We love the benefits of playing in rep and will be returning to it, but we are experimenting with new models. This pattern allows each play a very distinct identity, and a unique company of actors, allowing us to be more surprising as we reveal the intentions behind each production. The five directors offer different approaches, influences and instincts and share a commitment to release courageous new meaning in the plays."