RSC's Gregory Doran: 'Did Shakespeare actually write his plays? I don't care'

The artistic director of the RSC has given his thoughts on the authorship debate

Gregory Doran
Gregory Doran
© Dan Wooller for WhatsOnStage

As he unveiled the RSC's newest season, artistic director Gregory Doran revealed his opinions on the longstanding authorship debate regarding Shakespeare's works.

On whether or not Shakespeare wrote his plays, Doran said: "I don't care – ultimately we have this fantastic body of work – it doesn't matter who he, she or they were, in a way, we've got them – we can debate endlessly about who the writer was. There is a degree of snobbery about who could have written them. I don't think it was the Earl of Oxford – but that's a different debate. We have to understand that this is a different time – Henslowe's diary is chocker with payments to all different writers.

"It's more of a stable of writers like a Hollywood stable, where they're churning out films. In the 1593 season at the Rose they did something like 32 plays, with 21 being new plays. People were writing and collaborating and sharing more than we recognise."

Doran also strongly hinted that a West End transfer of the hit musical The Boy in the Dress, which has music by Guy Chambers and Robbie Williams, was very much on the cards: "I would be very surprised if it did not transfer… you've got to get into the right theatre." "Frozen is coming in and Lloyd Webber is bringing in his Cinderella, but I think we need a Boy in there." Doran has also stated that the show's in negotiations for a transfer.

During the meeting, Doran emphasised the national work being done to bring Shakespeare to schools. Director of education Jacqui O'Hanlon highlighted how the company's new production of Twelfth Night, as part of its First Encounters with Shakespeare programme, was chosen after consultation with a number of young ambassadors that are associated with the RSC.

There are also "absolutely, definitely" discussions for Hilary Mantel's upcoming novel The Mirror and the Light to be produced on stage at the RSC, with Doran saying Mantel was "writing the adaptation as we speak" and that the RSC had specifically commissioned the stage production. He went on to say that "that doesn't necessarily mean we'll do it", but that plans are in motion. The company previously presented Mantel's other two books, Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies, as a double-bill in Stratford-upon-Avon and in the West End.

The RSC has just unveiled its new winter season for 2020, including a musical adaptation of The Magician's Elephant and The War of the Roses – a two part adaptation of the three Henry VI plays.