RSC actor and director visit Richard III

Published: 7 September 2022
Reporter: Steve Orme

Arthur Hughes and Gregory Doran at the King Richard III Visitor Centre in Leicester Credit: Sam Allard

Arthur Hughes, currently playing the title role in the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Richard III, and director Gregory Doran have been to the King Richard III Visitor Centre in Leicester—ten years to the day since archaeologists were given permission to exhume human remains which were confirmed as those of the English king.

The remains of King Richard III were reinterred in Leicester Cathedral in 2015 after extensive anthropological and genetic testing.

Commenting on the visit, Hughes said, “after spending the last nine months with Shakespeare’s Richard III, to finally be on the site where his body was found was a fantastic experience.

“As a disabled actor, I’ve spent a lot of time understanding the psychological shape of Richard III. Finally to understand the physical shape of him and to know that this was a famous disabled king is something very important, as is to be playing this famous disabled part, which historically has not been played by a disabled actor.”

Rachel Ayron, learning and interpretation manager at the King Richard III Visitor Centre, added, “before 2012, most people’s perception of Richard III was shaped by Shakespeare’s play. Richard III is ultimately portrayed as an out-and-out villain. Now we have information that came from the analysis of his remains about his scoliosis, the fact that he had a spinal disability and that shaped how he thought of himself as a person at a time when disability was treated very differently to today.”

The RSC’s production of Richard III runs in the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford until Saturday 8 October. It will be broadcast to cinemas across the UK from 28 September and will also be broadcast live into UK classrooms for free on Thursday 24 November.

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