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David Tennant's Richard II leads RSC's winter season

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New Royal Shakespeare Company artistic director Gregory Doran has announced details of the company's 2013 winter season, with David Tennant set to return to star in a production of Richard II. The season will also feature the world premiere of Wendy & Peter Pan by Ella Hickson, and adaptations of Hilary Mantel's Booker Prize-winning novels Wolf Hall and Bring up the Bodies.

In the Royal Shakespeare Theatre

The season, which is the first drawn up by Doran, will start with Richard II, which will be directed by Doran himself. It will run in at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre from 10 October to 16 November 2013, before transferring to the Barbican in London from 9 December 2013 to 25 January 2014.

The production will mark Tennant's first return to the RSC since his acclaimed Hamlet in 2008, which was also helmed by Doran. Tennant will be joined in the cast by Oliver Ford Davies, who is currently appearing in Goodnight Mister Tom in the West End, as the Duke of York.

Doran said today he was "delighted" to welcome Tennant back to the RSC. The former Doctor Who caused an unprecedented stampede for tickets when he played Hamlet, though his appearance in the London transfer was curtailed due to a back injury. Public booking for Richard II will open on 18 March.

Richard II also marks the first time the RSC has transferred a production to the Barbican since ending its relationship with the venue in 2002, during Adrian Noble's tenure as artistic director. Doran said at today's press launch that although this doesn't necessarily mark a permanent return of the RSC to the Barbican, the option was "back on the table".

Also running in the newly refurbished RST will be Wendy & Peter Pan, a new play giving a fresh perspective on JM Barrie's children's classic from Ella Hickson. It will be directed by Jonathan Munby (The Canterbury Tales, Madness in Valencia) and designed by Colin Richmond, running from 10 December 2013 to 2 March 2014.

In the Swan Theatre

The Swan Theatre will be home to adaptations of Hilary Mantel's award-winning novels Wolf Hall and Bring up the Bodies. Adapted by Mike Poulton, the plays paint the portrait of the political rise to power of Thomas Cromwell in the Tudor Court and will play in repertoire from December.

The double bill will be directed by Jeremy Herrin, whose credits include No Quarter at the Royal Court, and This House at the National Theatre. The productions will run from 11 December 2013 to 29 March 2014, with press day on 8 January 2014.

Doran revealed that Hilary Mantel, who will deliver the final installment of the trilogy in 2014, has agreed to provide material she left out of the books to be included in the stage adaptations. "The gripping tale of Thomas Cromwell's rise to power under Henry VIII, and the King's infatuation with Anne Boleyn, has captivated readers in their thousands, and I am thrilled to bring them to our stages," he added.

Events, exhibitions and education

The RSC have also announced today In Stitches, an exhibition celebrating its costume collection. The free exhibition will be displayed throughout its Stratford theatres and will reveal highlights from the Company&8217;s extensive collection along with new artistic responses, interactive displays and opportunities for visitors to try on RSC theatre costumes with a special dressing up box. It will run from spring 2013 - spring 2014.

Other exhibitions will include Into the Wild, an RSC Costume Collection exhibition exploring how costume designers have responded to themes of nature in Shakespeare's work, and Costume Craft, an interactive display following the journey of how a costume is made and maintained.

The RSC's Education Department have created a website called Write Here Write Now with Matilda, a resource giving schools unique insights into the creative process of staging the award-winning musical. The site features interviews with the show's creators, Dennis Kelly and Tim Minchin, and aims to help make storytelling vivid, accessible and enjoyable for children and their teachers.

The RSC is also setting a National Writing Challenge, inviting students aged between eight and thirteen to create an original script or song to be performed live in a special performance by the West End cast of Matilda at London&8217;s Cambridge Theatre in June 2013.

"Entire canon" in RST

Gregory Doran, who succeeded Michael Boyd in September, also revealed at today's press briefing plans to stage the entire Shakespeare canon in the RST over the next five years.

"This winter season acts as a prologue to a wider plan," he said. "I hope we will work through the entire canon, producing all his plays in our new Royal Shakespeare Theatre, but without repeating the titles in that time."

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He added: "The Swan will be dedicated largely to looking at the stable of writers who worked alongside Shakespeare; to the plays which inspired him and which he inspired; and to writing which matches his scale and ambition, providing a deeper context to the genius of our house playwright."

Doran also officially unveiled Erica Whyman as deputy artistic director, a newly created role. Whyman, who joins the RSC following her tenure as artistic director of Northern Stage, will be tasked with overseeing the redevelopment of studio theatre The Other Place.

Whyman said: "The Other Place has always seemed to me to embody a philosophy as much as a physical space and I want to continue its rich culture of innovation and celebration as we create a new place for artists to experiment, encounter each other and encounter Shakespeare... We've secured planning permission to retain the Courtyard structure and to remodel the interior to create a small scale studio theatre, two new rehearsal rooms and to allow us to move our costume store into the former auditorium, opening it up to the public for the first time."

- by Theo Bosanquet & Rosie Bannister


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