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Live theatre is back! RSC’s new ‘garden’ theatre & BBC 4 film

Hot-off-the-press the RSC today announces two of 2020's major productions postponed in the pandemic will go ahead!

The cast of The Winter’s Tale (L-R) Andrew French, Kemi-Bo Jacobs, Joseph Kloska. Photo by Hugo Glendinning (c) RSC

Itching to get back to the theatre? Us too! Exactly one year after theatres were forced to close the RSC has just unveiled today (Fri Mar 12) some very exciting news about two of its postponed 2020 major Shakespeare productions.

A filmed version of The Winter’s Tale will be screened on BBC Four & BBC iPlayer around Shakespeare’s birthday in April as part of the BBC’s Lights Up season. Then this summer live theatre performances of The Comedy of Errors will return to Stratford-upon-Avon in a specially constructed outdoor Garden Theatre flanked by the River Avon and overlooked by The Swan.

Both plays were due to begin performances in the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in March and April last year when the Covid-19 pandemic took hold.

Erica Whyman, deputy artistic director of the RSC

Directed by Erica Whyman and featuring the entire cast due to appear in the postponed 2020 production, The Winter’s Tale has been re-rehearsed adhering to strict safety measures. It’s been adapted for TV by the original creative team, with screen direction by Bridget Caldwell.

Kemi-Bo Jacobs will play Hermione in The Winter’s Tale

Set across 16-years from the 1953 coronation to the moon landings, this production imagines a world where the ghosts of fascist Europe collide with horrors reminiscent of The Handmaid’s Tale, before washing up on a joyful seashore. With set design by Tom Piper, costumes by Madeleine Girling, and music by Isobel Waller-Bridge (Phoebe’s sister), the cast includes Ben Caplan as Camillo, Andrew French as Polixenes, Amanda Hadingue as Paulina, Kemi-Bo Jacobs (pictured above) as Hermione and Joseph Kloska as Leontes.

Phillip Breen directs The Comedy of Errors, 2021 (c) the artist

Director Phillip Breen will reconceive The Comedy of Errors, one of Shakespeare’s earliest and arguably funniest plays, for outdoor performances to open the newly created Garden Theatre.  Phillip’s previous RSC directorial credits include some brilliant comedies The Merry Wives of WindsorThe Provoked Wife and The Hypocrite.  The production is designed by Max Jones.  Full casting and creative team details will be announced in April.

Photo by John Bellars (c) RSC

Gregory Doran, RSC Artistic Director, said: “It has been an incredibly tough year for all in the industry, including our freelance colleagues who make this industry tick.  Despite having to postpone and cancel productions, we have continued to share Shakespeare online and outdoors, and support young people and teachers throughout the pandemic.

“These have and will continue to be challenging times, but we look forward with optimism.  The outdoor theatre gives us the security that we can perform to good sized audiences as we emerge from the pandemic and prepare for news on the government roadmap’s ‘no earlier than’ dates.

“We’ve had extraordinary support, generosity and patience from our supporters and audiences, which has been a great source of encouragement as we have navigated the ups and downs of the year. Alongside our colleagues across the industry, we will play our part in the recovery of our towns and cities and the wellbeing of our communities, and we cannot wait to welcome audiences back”.

A full performance schedule and box office details for The Comedy of Errors and further programming are set to be announced mid-April, RSC

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