20th April, 2004
New Work at the RSC
The first RSC New Work Festival in Stratford-upon-Avon brings
new writing and experiment back to the Companys repertoire
- Four world premieres of new plays
- Performed readings and work in progress
Testimonies by Douglas Coupland and Yasmin Alibhai Brown
- Community and young peoples projects
The RSC has re-committed to the one of its founding principles: presenting
new work alongside plays by its house playwright, William
Shakespeare. The first New Work Festival, a two week annual celebration
of new work, will take place in September 2004; the culmination of Artistic
Director Michael Boyds first Festival Season in Stratford.
Performances and events in the Festival will be interwoven with the
Companys main repertoire (The Tragedies in the Royal Shakespeare
Theatre and The Spanish Golden Age season in the Swan Theatre).
Actors from both companies will create a rich and eclectic festival-style
programme of new plays, devised and innovative work, rehearsed readings
and events from 29 September to 17 October.
Michael Boyd, RSC Artistic Director said, Our Shakespeare productions
will become shallow unless they relate to contemporary work which deals
directly with the world we live in. Shakespeare is a good teacher. He
knew how to marry the recognisable with the lyrical and entertainment
with high art, and continues to inspire todays writers.
This first New Work Festival, led by our own Dominic Cooke, is
a chance to re-open a dialogue with contemporary writers and challenge
the way that new work is produced in this country. It allows us to experiment
and allow our audiences to join us as we test out newly hatched ideas
something we know theyre hungry for. Its a two week
jamboree with a spirit that I hope will infect our work year round.
At the heart of the Festival will be four world premieres of new plays:
Midwinter by Zinnie Harris, Poor Beck by Joanna Laurens,
Head/Case by Ron Hutchinson, and Tynan by Richard Nelson
with Colin Chambers.
As well as staging full productions of new plays, the Festival provides
an insight into the process of making theatre, giving a rare public
platform to experimental devised theatre, rehearsed readings and work
in progress. We hope that this work will be fully produced in later
years. In the first New Work Festival, Michael Boyd will lead a devised
piece on the life of Pontius Pilate, and Lee Hall will share the initial
stages of Shock and Awe, a new play exploring the lives of British
soldiers in Iraq.
Associate Director Dominic Cooke, responsible for the New Work Festival,
said, The New Work Festival represents the start of a journey
towards putting new work and the vision of contemporary writers back
at the heart of the RSC. For me it is essential to measure the work
of writers of our own time against the classics and to allow the company
to bring the freshness of new plays to their work on Shakespeare.
This ambitious and eclectic explosion of work will give a thrilling
opportunity for our audiences to enjoy the company working in different
spaces on a wide and varied range of projects.
Following the close of the 2004 Festival Season in Stratford, the New
Work Festival will follow the repertoire of classical work to Newcastle,
Midwinter by Zinnie Harris
An extraordinary multi-layered play about identity, love and war.
Told in a fluent and lyrical dramatic language, this is a play about
a world made of conflict. It is written by former RSC Writer in Residence
Zinnie Harris. Zinnie has just been awarded an Arts Foundation grant
and will also direct this production.
The cast will include Ruth Gemmell, Pal Aron, Sean Hannaway and John
For seven performances only at the Swan theatre.
Poor Beck by Joanna Laurens
An ambitious, poetic re-working of the story of Myrrah from Ovids
Metamorphosis, Poor Beck is a rich exploration of love,
language and the senses.
Joanna Laurens has just finished her tenure as the latest RSC Writer
in Residence and, at the age of 24, has already seen two of her plays
produced by major theatre companies. Five Gold Rings was her
last play, opening at the Almeida in 2003.
The cast includes Greg Hicks, Louise Bangay, Sian Brooke and Louis
For seven performances only at The Other Place.
Head/Case by Ron Hutchinson
This Coventry Belgrade theatre production is the completion of Ron
Hutchinsons trilogy of plays examining the Northern Irish psyche.
Rons last RSC production was the promenade production of The
Dillen in 1983. RSC Artistic Director Michael Boyd directed Risky
City by Hutchinson at the Belgrade in 1980.
Head/Case is directed by Caroline Hunt.
For seven performances only at the Swan theatre.
By Richard Nelson, with Colin Chambers
This irreverent and indiscreet play is based on the diaries of the
infamous theatre critic and writer Kenneth Tynan. This one man show
is performed by Corin Redgrave who also appears in the title role
of King Lear in Bill Alexanders production at the Royal
Shakespeare Theatre this season. It is co written and directed by
US playwright Richard Nelson whose plays for the RSC have included
Some Americans Abroad, and The General from America.
The production is designed by Tynans daughter Tracy.
For 12 performances only at the Swan theatre.
Work in Progress and Performance Readings
The Pilate Workshop
This will be a work in progress performance inspired by the book
by Ann Wroe exploring the life of Pontius Pilate. RSC Artistic Director
Michael Boyd will work with members of the Tragedies acting
company - including Toby Stephens in the role of Jesus, Greg Hicks
as Judas and Clive Wood as Pontius Pilate. The music for the production
is composed by Ann Tedstone.
For five performances only at The Other Place.
Venus and Adonis
by William Shakespeare
RSC Associate Director Gregory Doran directs a rehearsed reading
of Shakespeares great narrative poem with members of the company
on the main stage. Greg has been working on a full production of Venus
and Adonis since visiting the Bunraku puppet theatre in Osaka,
Japan which uses puppetry, music and narrative.
This event represents a work in progress toward a fully
staged future production of the poem. One performance only in the
Royal Shakespeare Theatre.
Cardboard Citizens - Visible
The RSC renews its collaboration with Cardboard Citizens which began
last year with a production of Pericles. This is less of a
reading, more of a provocation to feed into the early stages of the
creative process between the company and playwright Sarah Woods. For
one performance only at The Other Place.
Shock and Awe
Work in progress on the presentation of a new play by Lee Hall which
touches on the untold story surrounding the British experience of
Iraq and the current conflicts.
Ron Hutchinson playreadings
Members of the RSC acting company will read two of Ron Hutchinsons
plays based on Northern Ireland in the Dress Circle Bar of the RST.
These plays - Rat in the Skull and The Irish Play -
examine the duality of the Irish psyche and are part of a trilogy,
the third part, Head/Case, will be performed as a production in the
Swan during the Festival.
One performance only in the Dress Circle Bar, Royal Shakespeare Theatre
Two rehearsed monologues prepared as individual responses to contemporary
September 10 2001: looking back at the 90s
Renowned Canadian author Douglas Coupland (Generation X, Girlfriend
in a Coma) will perform a monologue in three sections about North
America before 9/11. It will be directed by Blake Brooker, Artistic
Director of the Canadian theatre company One Yellow Rabbit. For three
performances only at The Other Place.
Nowhere to belong: tales of an extravagant stranger
The respected political commentator Yasmin Alibhai-Brown will perform
her monologue for two performances only at The Other Place. It will
be directed by Gavin Marshall who is Assistant Director on this seasons
production of Romeo and Juliet.
Community and Young People's Projects
In addition to the main Festival we will be producing a series
of participatory events aimed at the local community and young people.
This will bring our audiences, both present and future, into a closer
relationship with the companys work, with the process of playwriting
and with Shakespeares work.
Dominic Cooke, New Work Festival curator
This project invites local residents to take to the stage and creatively
express themselves through prose, poetry, song, monodrama, a sketch
or reportage. A unique opportunity for local people to enter a piece
of work based on the experiences of living in Stratford in the 21st
An initiative inviting young people to make a creative response to
the world in which they live. This can include songs, monologues,
prose, poetry or comedy sketches as long as its a statement.
The entrants will have been judged by a specially selected panel
and the thirty finalists will have their work showcased on the RST
stage with the help of an RSC director.
Young Peoples Macbeth
Cast from within the current company, this production of Macbeth
sees the play stripped back to its bare essentials to tell the tale
in a thrilling, fast, clear and exciting new way specifically produced
for a younger audience. It will perform in five local schools to an
audience of 200 10-11 year olds and also play a limited number of
performances in The Other Place which are open to the general public.
Cast includes John Killoran as Macbeth. The production is directed
by David Hunt who has previously worked at the RSC as an Assistant
Director. The designer is Michael Vale with music by Simon Slater
and fights directed by Richard Ryan.
The RSC New Work Festival is generously supported
by: Christopher Seton Abele on behalf of the Argosy Foundation; and
David and Sandra Burbidge. The work of the RSC Literary Department is
generously supported by the Drue Heinz Trust.
News Archive M-Z
Production News Archive
Please note that all three Archive
indices are very long and will therefore take some time to download.