Christopher Eccleston to star as Macbeth in new RSC season
Erica Whyman will also direct a new musical about Joan Littlewood by Sam Kenyon
The RSC has announced its new season, which will feature productions of Macbeth, Romeo and Juliet and The Merry Wives of Windsor.
Doctor Who star Christopher Eccleston will make his RSC debut in the Scottish play in the Royal Shakespeare Theatre (13 March to 22 September 2018). Directed by Polly Findlay he will star alongside Niamh Cusack as Lady Macbeth. Cusack returns to the Royal Shakespeare Company for the first time since playing Rosalind in As You Like It in 1996. The production will be broadcast to cinemas on 11 April.
On Eccleston's casting, RSC artistic director Gregory Doran commented: "Christopher Eccleston rang and said 'I know you're going through all the plays in the canon, when you get to Macbeth can I play him please?''
RSC deputy AD Erica Whyman will direct Romeo and Juliet from 21 April to 22 September. The production will feature young people from RSC associate school around the country and will be broadcast to cinemas on 18 June as well as embarking on a UK tour in 2019.
Fiona Laird will then direct a production of The Merry Wives of Windsor (4 August to 20 September 2018, broadcast 12 September). Fresh from his acclaimed Titus Andronicus, David Troughton will take on the role of Falstaff.
Antony Sher will reprise his King Lear for a limited revival (23 May to 9 June) of Doran's production which returns after its run in the RST and at the Barbican last year.
In the Swan Theatre there will be productions of John Webster's The Duchess of Malfi (1 March to 4 August) directed by Maria Aberg, and Mary Pix's The Fantastic Follies of Mrs Rich (or The Beau Defeated) (22 March to 16 June) directed by Jo Davies.
From 22 June to 4 August Erica Whyman will direct a new musical by Sam Kenyon called Miss Littlewood, about revolutionary theatremaker Joan Littlewood. Whyman said: "It's 104 years since Joan was born and it feels very timely. We tell the whole story of her life and it is also a love story. It is extraordinary and will make a great musical.
"There will be seven Joans, six playing her at different times of her life, one trying to control the evening. As she would."
On the season, Doran said: "All shows in the main house and Swan are directed by women. That was part of a process. It just so happens that it's an entirely female directed programme.'