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Simon Russell Beale to feature in new RSC season

The RSC's winter 2016 season has been announced

Simon Russell Beale will star in The Tempest

The RSC have today announced their 2016 winter season for Shakespeare's 400th anniversary.

Simon Russell Beale will play Prospero in a radical staging of The Tempest. Directed by Gregory Doran, the show will be a collaboration with Intel and The Imaginarium Studios. Opening in November, The Tempest will harness digital technology to create a family-friendly production of Shakespeare's play, which will run from 8 November.

Doran said: "Inspired by the spectacular masques of Shakespeare's day, we have set ourselves the challenge of creating the most technologically advanced production we have ever staged in the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, working with Intel and The Imaginarium Studios. We will blend ancient theatre skills with innovative digital technology to conjure up Prospero's island, inhabited by fantastical characters, in Shakespeare's most magical late play The Tempest."

Beale returns to the company to play Prospero following his last role as Ariel in Sam Mendes' production of The Tempest in 1996.

Elsewhere Doran will direct Antony Sher in the title role of King Lear, with David Troughton as Gloucester and Paapa Essiedu as Edmund. The show will run in rep from 20 August.

In the Swan Theatre's 30th anniversary season, a production of The Two Noble Kinsmen directed by Blanche McIntyre will open on August 17 and plays in rep until February 17. The RSC will also stage The Rover directed by Loveday Ingram (8 September - 11 February) and a new play by Anders Lustgarten The Seven Acts of Mercy (24 November - 11 February).

The 400th anniversary weekend in April will see celebrations across Stratford. The RSC are staging a series of free outdoor events for the entire family, including a specially commissioned show Wondrous Strange by acrobatic company Mimbre. There will be a free firework display at the end of the 23 April - the date Shakespeare died.