Posts Tagged ‘RSC’

Saturday 6 and Sunday 7 August

Join Tanika Gupta for a weekend of explosive play readings by lady dramatists and a provocative on stage discussion with guests including Harriet Walter, April De Angelis, Adjoa Andoh, Rosin McBrinn and Ola Animashawun.

Only 23% of Shakespeare’s characters are female and they occupy 17% of stage time. We still see a similar ratio on our stages across the theatre industry.

Did Shakespeare set an unbreakable template? Have female dramatists managed to redress the balance?

Find out more – http://www.rsc.org.uk/whats-on/events/rsc50/tanika-gupta.aspx

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DUNSINANE –  I quote what Ingrid wrote.  “We watched Dunsinane today in Stratford, at the matinee: What a fantastic performance! It was tremendous, powerful, playing incredible tricks with one’s mind. Brian Ferguson, the Malcom/Karzai who came over as the true realist, quite lovable and just a little despicable, Jonny Phillips as the noble warrior, so naive and yet so cruel, Tom Gill, little Sojo who was told…, and the wonderful Siobhan Redmond as Gruach, she had me in tears at the end.“ What a production! Bravo! Thank you National Theatre of Scotland! Thank you RSC for putting it on at The Swan. I enjoyed it again. Tonight is the last performance in Stratford. Congratulations to all the National Theatre of Scotland team and good luck for the next performances of the play. Thought provoking and wonderful acting.

SCOTT HANDY TALK FOR THE RSC FRIENDS –  It was a privilege to be present, when Scott Handy gave a mesmerizing talk to the RSC Friends. Everyone there appeared impressed by his sincerity and relevant comments including how actors bring the written lines to life. We should thank him for taking time to talk to us despite his busy schedule. Scott is such an intelligent, pleasant, unassuming gentleman and a credit to his profession.  And thank you Jane for your pertinent questions –so good a host and for organising the Event along with Penny who also deserves our thanks.

UNWRAPPED AND SCRIPT- IN – HAND PERFORMANCES – We have been enjoying going to the various Unwrapped Events that have been staged at the RSC and also the script in hand readings. I am looking forward to Saturday which starts with Unwrapped Cardenio at 10.30, followed by a weekend created by Mark Ravenhill – script in hand readings Poppy at 2pm (a musical set during the 19th century Opium Wars) and Fashion at 7pm (a satire re political spin as an advertising tycoon bids for the job of re-modelling the Tories in 1987).

My goodness we are being spoilt for choice.

by  David Stevens

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Back in 1963, the company altered the format of programmes. Instead of the shilling priced  red coloured play title cover (with Swan logo) which contained the cast list and a brief director’s note, patrons were  given a choice. They could have the now familiar free cast list or purchase a more detailed programme with cast list and potted biographies of the cast, director and designer, plus a longer director’s note (sometimes also a designer’s note with costume sketches), comments on the play or the themes discussed by Shakespeare and photographs of either rehearsals or the production itself.

Such programmes paved the way for the splendid ones we are enjoying in this special Birthday Season with so many fascinating and informative articles. Plus the more detailed bio and photos of the ensembles, not forgetting for posterity  the information about THE COMPANY and what our theatres now offer – including forthcoming productions up to March next year.

Many thanks to our compilers and editors -Michelle and Lucy! As well as the productions themselves, these programmes are wonderful souvenirs of this historic moment in not only RSC history but also British  and World Theatre generally.

The productions of JULIUS CAESAR and THE TEMPEST, which I have previously mentioned, also gave me the opportunity to begin to see the fruits of the work of an ensemble and to become familiar with the work of company members who would appear with the RSC over many seasons to come:

Jeffery Dench ( Ligarius and Flavius), Clifford Rose (Soothsayer), David Warner (Cinna the poet and Trinculo), John Normington (Lucilius and a Cobbler ), Susan Engel (Calphurnia and Juno), Cherry Morris (Portia and Ceres), Janet Suzman (Iris) and Ian Holm (Ariel ). 

Fascinating to think that some of them were making their RSC debut that year!

I was now absolutely determined to return to Stratford for as many of the 1964  Quatercentenary productions as possible! Of course, that year would see productions of Shakespeare all over Britain and former company member Russell Hunter (now with the Bristol Old Vic) gently reminded audiences generally of the pitfalls of being over familiar with the plays. He suggested that in the moments before any production of one of Shakespeare’s plays began, the members of the audience should…”forget you have ever read or seen the play before”.

Without seeming arrogant, I have always followed that advice and have NEVER (yes, NEVER ) been disappointed.

And my memories of 1964?  To be continued!

Tony Boyd-Williams

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BBC Radio 2’s Friday Night is Music Night joins in the RSC’s 50th Birthday celebrations with music from some of the many films, musicals, ballets and operas inspired by Shakespeares plays. With members of the RSC performing some of the most famous soliloquies from his plays and the 60 piece BBC Concert Orchestra conducted by Roderick Dunk, the programme features music ranging from Mendelssohn’s Midsummer Night’s Dream, Verdi’s Ballet Macbeth, William Walton’s Henry V and Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet; to Cole Porter’s Kiss Me Kate, Rodgers and Harts The Boys From Syracuse, West Side Story and the film Shakespeare in Love’.

Presented by Samantha Bond, the concert was recorded at the Mermaid Theatre last Saturday – and will be broadcast this Friday evening (10th June.) RSC ensemble members and alumni involved in the recording include: Greg Hicks, Susannah Fielding, Brian Doherty, Rupert Evans, Desmond Barrit, Darrell D’Silva, Brian Doherty and Noma Dumezweni.

 Radio 2 are also producing an interval feature which includes interviews with John Woolf talking about RSC music, Dennis Kelly on Matilda, The Musical, Cis Berry about voice work, Greg Doran on the RSC and Cardenio, Jonathan Slinger on Macbeth and The Homecoming and acting for the RSC, and Jacqui O’Hanlon on the RSC’s Education work.

 It’s Pick of the week in this week’s Radio Times…

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I was not able to return to Stratford until 1963,but I kept in touch with the RSC by reading reviews and articles in THE STAGE plus THEATRE WORLD. Two years after my initial thrill of coming to Stratford and the RST for the first time, the thrill was experienced once more when I twice made the theatrical pilgrimage from  Cardiff. But what to see when funds dictate that this sixth former could only manage two visits ?

I HAD planned to see the first part of the now celebrated WARS OF THE ROSES cycle which was simply entitled HENRY VI, but the illness of Peter Hall meant that the production was postponed  and a performance of JULIUS CAESAR was substituted for the performance I had booked for. This CAESAR (perhaps because it was the first professional production I had seen of the play ) is still a vivid memory. Director John Blatchley gave a fast moving and almost at times cinematic interpretation, whilst eclectic costumes suggested a modern political thriller. In a programme note, John Blatchley challenged the audience to rethink that this is a play about noble  Romans by posing the question -“How many actions in the play are noble ? ” If we go back to the text, the answer is very little. This production  was therefore a milestone in my theatrical journey of discovering new interpretations of a play and also helped me to look at the play afresh, especially as it reflected world politics in 1963.

The sparse but effective set was (along with the costumes ) designed by John Bury, then an Associate Designer and the music (most martial and quite stirring )was by someone who became a well known name in the RSC and Stratford  generally -Guy Woolfenden. 

The second production I saw that season was THE TEMPEST, directed by Clifford Williams in collaboration with PETER BROOK. It reminded the audience that Shakespeare used practically all his themes in this “last play” and it was also very funny  (brilliant clowning in the Caliban/Trinculo/Stephano scenes ) and most magical with splendid sets and costumes by the then other Associate designer, Abd’Elkader Farrah. It was quite a coincidence that at the Builders’ night on the 26th November last, I met up with his son and daughter. We had a very enjoyable time recalling this production and their father’s special contribution. Very much a case of the early days of the RSC being recalled in our transformed building.

Other memories of 1963 include long term ensemble actors plus the new programmes which the company introduced that year. Such memories must await the next blog and in case you may be wondering, I have not forgotten those word of advice from former ensemble member Russell Hunter. They WILL also be included very soon!

Tony Boyd-Williams

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Which places do you love?

Who would you write a sonnet about?

The RSC want to know – we’re working with the arts organisation, Curious, to gather up Stratford’s love stories.

Shakespeare’s sonnets, each fourteen lines long, are some of the most famous love poems ever written.

Your stories, alongside Shakespeare’s sonnets, will become the inspiration for a unique floating theatrical performance, created by Curious, to take place on the River Avon.

In addition, fourteen local people (and their loves) will be selected to have their portraits taken by arts photographer Hugo Glendinning, and these images will make up the 14 Lines of Love exhibition in the Swan Gallery at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre. Both events will take place in August.


1. Choose your place or person.
The place must be local to Stratford-Upon-Avon (within Stratford or Warwick District Council boundaries)  – it could be the sunny spot in your back garden, a favourite bench in the park or a coffee shop in town. If you’re chosen, the photograph will be of you in that place.
Or you could choose a person who is special to you.

2. Write a paragraph or two describing:
who that person or place is; what are the special things about that place or person; and why you would like a portrait of that place or person to be part of the exhibition.
You could even try writing in sonnet form if you like!

3. Send your paragraph to Nicky Cox, Events Co-ordinator, RSC, Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Southern Lane, Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, CV37 6BB.

Email: nicky.cox@rsc.org.uk

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One to watch……

BBC2 7pm, Thursday May 26th 

The Culture Show


Andrew Graham-Dixon presents from the recently revamped Royal Shakespeare Theatre… where Clemency Burton-Hill goes behind the scenes as the RSC celebrates its 50th birthday.

by Susan Finch

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