Theatre News

RSC winter 2020 season to include world premiere of The Magician's Elephant musical

The Stratford venue will also continue its journey through the Shakespearean canon with ”Henry VI Parts 1, 2 and 3”

Marc Teitler and Nancy Harris in a workshop for The Magician's Elephant
Marc Teitler and Nancy Harris in a workshop for The Magician's Elephant
© RSC, photograph by Sam Allard

The RSC winter season will include a world premiere of a new musical and the continuation of the company's journey through the Shakespearean canon, it was announced today.

The new musical The Magician's Elephant will receive its world premiere at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre. The children's show is adapted by Nancy Harris and Marc Teitler from the best-selling novel by Kate DiCamillo and tells the story of orphan Peter Augustus Duchenne who is visited by an elephant from the sky. It will star Jack Wolfe as Peter and be directed by Sarah Tipple, with design by Colin Richmond and lighting design by Oliver Fenwick. The production will run from 29 October to 17 January 2021.

In the Swan Theatre, the RSC will continue its journey through the complete Shakespearean canon with The Wars of the Roses, a restaging of Henry VI Parts 1, 2 and 3 told in two parts from 10 October to 2 January 2021. The venue will be transformed to create new grandstand seating and 100 standing arena spaces, as well as the traditional seating in the galleries. The production will be directed by Owen Horsley with RSC artistic director Gregory Doran and will feature design by Stephen Brimson Lewis, costume design by Hannah Clark, composition by Paul Englishby and fight direction by Rachel Bown-Williams and Ruth Cooper-Brown. The RSC journey will conclude in 2021 with Richard III, with further details to be announced.

Other events include the continuation of the First Encounters with Shakespeare series – edited versions of original Shakespearean works – with Twelfth Night directed and edited by Robin Belfield. The show will play in local schools before running at the Swan Theatre from 24 to 26 September, after which it will embark on a seven-week tour of partner schools and regional theatres across England.

Also playing is Something Wicked: A Halloween Revel on 30 and 31 October – a series of live pop-up performances, a Banquo's Banquet midnight feast, immersive storytelling and live music culminating in an all-night sleepover. The event will include a screening of the 1976 Ian McKellen and Judi Dench Macbeth.

Following its opening alongside The Comedy of Errors and Pericles this summer, The Winter's Tale will embark on a national tour in January 2021 to Salford, Bradford, Canterbury and Newcastle, with other venues to be confirmed.

As part of their commitment to make Shakespeare for everyone, the RSC season will continue broadcasting every Shakespeare play in the canon to cinemas across the UK, with a recorded performance of The Wars of the Roses Parts 1 and 2 scheduled for 2021. Full details of future Live From Stratford-upon-Avon screenings will be confirmed in due course.

RSC artistic director Gregory Doran commented on the season, "When I became artistic director, I wanted to stage every Shakespeare play in the canon once. We are more than two thirds of the way through that journey, which will conclude at the end of 2021. We began with Richard II in 2013, developing the history cycle with the two Henry IVs and Henry V. We played all four shows as one cycle in London and New York, and took the productions to China, the first time the plays had ever been performed there. This journey now continues with The Wars of the Roses, our two-part staging of Shakespeare's epic history cycle which he wrote as Henry VI Parts 1, 2 and 3. If you want to understand the dangerous world we live in, with its divisive politics, the rise of demagoguery and the threat of despotism, then you need look no further than Shakespeare's early history plays."

"The beautifully crafted storytelling of Kate DiCamillo's The Magician's Elephant and the mischievous comedy of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, directed by Robin Belfield ensure that Shakespeare's spirit of interrogation, invention and creativity is alive and well in the most exciting creative voices of today."