BBC to broadcast RSC’s Romeo and Juliet

Published: 31 May 2020
Reporter: Steve Orme

Karen Fishwick and Bally Gill as the lovers in Romeo and Juliet Credit: Topher McGrillis

The Royal Shakespeare Company production of Romeo and Juliet is to be broadcast on BBC Four as part of its Culture in Quarantine series.

The production premièred at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford in spring 2018 and transferred to the Barbican in November of the same year.

Romeo and Juliet then went on an extended tour of the UK in 2019 which included Norwich Theatre Royal, Newcastle Theatre Royal, Alhambra Theatre in Bradford, Nottingham Theatre Royal, Blackpool Grand Theatre, New Theatre in Cardiff and Glasgow Theatre Royal.

Romeo and Juliet is the first of six RSC titles to be broadcast as part of Culture in Quarantine which runs across television, radio and online. It aims to increase access to the arts at a time when buildings are closed, and to support artists and arts organisations.

The six productions are part of the UK education syllabus and the broadcast will be supported by a week-long programme of GCSE lesson plans themed around Romeo and Juliet from Monday 15 until Friday 19 June as part of BBC Bitesize Daily.

Erica Whyman, the RSC’s deputy artistic director, said, "I'm absolutely delighted that audiences across the UK will have the chance to experience the thrill of Shakespeare's revolutionary love story afresh through BBC Culture in Quarantine. The play is fundamentally about how to give hope to the next generation in turbulent times, which feels incredibly relevant now.

"To open with this production, which featured 140 young performers who spoke the prologue wherever we toured, feels particularly timely as theatres across the nation come to terms with the unprecedented challenges ahead.”

Romeo and Juliet features Bally Gill, who won the Ian Charleston Award for his depiction of Romeo, and Karen Fishwick as Juliet. Erica Whyman directs, with design by Tom Piper and lighting by Charles Balfour. Music is by Sophie Cotton and movement by Ayse Tashkiran. The production will be broadcast on Sunday 7 June at 9PM.

Other confirmed RSC titles being broadcast on BBC Four this June include the 2016 production of Hamlet with Paapa Essiedu in the title role, Macbeth (2018) featuring Christopher Ecclestone and Niamh Cusack as the Macbeths, Much Ado About Nothing (2014) with Edward Bennett as Benedick and Michelle Terry as Beatrice, Othello (2015) with Hugh Quarshie in the title role and Lucian Msamati as Iago, and The Merchant of Venice (2015) with Makram J Khoury as Shylock.