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RSC unveils 2022 spring season including Much Ado About Nothing and War of the Roses

The venue has revealed plans to June 2022

Much Ado About Nothing

The Royal Shakespeare Company has unveiled its spring 2022 plans including new productions of Much Ado About Nothing.

Roy Alexander Weise, co-artistic director of the Royal Exchange in Manchester, will direct a new production of Much Ado About Nothing, with a cast led by Michael Balogun and Akiya Henry as Benedick and Beatrice.

A futuristic take on Shakespeare's comedy, the piece runs in the Royal Shakespeare Theatre from 4 February to 12 March 2022.

The piece has set Design by Jemima Robinson, lighting design by Azusa Ono, sound design by Claire Windsor and dramaturgy by Anthony Simpson-Pike. Simon-Hartman owner Melissa Simon-Hartman will provide costume design, while MOBO award-nominated musician Femi Temowo will provide music.

Weise explained: "Shakespeare was all too aware of the creative potential that came with setting his plays in imagined worlds…or at least worlds unfamiliar to his audience at the time. Far off landscapes like Antium, Ephesus, Syria, Venice and Verona were as far removed from the world of 16th century England as the future feels to us today, providing Shakespeare with the perfect canvas on which to paint.

"Living in a 21st Century global society, our world is much smaller and more connected, which is why I wanted to explore what a futuristic vision of society might look like; what has the potential to be different, what potential is there for change, and equally what fundamental aspects of the human condition remain unchanged?"

From 1 April to 4 June 2022, the venue will mount Henry VI: Rebellion (directed by artistic director Gregory Doran and Owen Horsley), followed by Wars of the Roses (directed by Horsley).

Based on the trilogy of Shakespeare's Henry VI plays, the pieces will also feature participants from six Shakespeare Nation adult community groups plus young members of Next Generation Act.

Set Design will be by Stephen Brimson Lewis, with costume design by Hannah Clark, lighting design by Matt Daw and sound design by Steven Atkinson.

RSC associate artist Paul Englishby returns to compose the music with fights by Rachel Bown-Williams and Ruth Cooper-Brown.

The RSC will also launch a new writing initiative titled 37 Plays alongside a variety of venues across the UK.

Erica Whyman, acting artistic director of the RSC said: "One of the many reasons that Shakespeare's plays continue to endure is down to his ability to write about his own time in ways that still mean something to us today. Despite the centuries that have passed, we still recognise something of ourselves in his writings. Now, more than ever, there are new and urgent stories to tell about who we think we are and who might become.

"We know that as a nation we have a lot to say, and with 37 Plays we have the opportunity to surface those stories whether comic, tragic, historical, supernatural, real or imagined, unearthing new voices for different platforms whether that's on our stages, on our streets, in schools, online or in new locations and spaces we haven't explored yet."

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