RSC to present Wars of the Roses in Stratford

Published: 5 February 2020
Reporter: Steve Orme

“Continuing journey”: Gregory Doran Credit: Helen Maybanks
Directing The Wars of the Roses: Owen Horsley

The Royal Shakespeare Company will stage all three parts of Henry VI in the Swan Theatre, Stratford as part of its winter 2020 season.

On announcing the season, Gregory Doran said, “when I became artistic director I wanted to stage every Shakespeare play in the canon. We’re more than two thirds of the way through that journey which will conclude at the end of 2021.

“We began with Richard II in 2013 (with David Tennant in the title role), developing the history cycle with Henry IV Part I and Part 2 and Henry V. We played all four shows as one cycle in London and New York and took the productions to China, the first time the plays had been performed there.

“This journey now continues with The Wars of the Roses, our two-part staging of Shakespeare's epic history cycle which he wrote as Henry VI Parts 1, 2 and 3. If you want to understand the dangerous world we live in, with its divisive politics, the rise of demagoguery and the threat of despotism, then you need look no further than Shakespeare's early history plays.”

The three Henry VI plays will be presented by one company of actors across two performances in a newly configured Swan Theatre from 10 October until 2 January 2021. The auditorium will have a new format, with grandstand seating and 100 standing spaces to give audiences the opportunity to immerse themselves in the action. The story will conclude in 2021 with Richard III.

Owen Horsley will direct. Design will be by RSC director of design Stephen Brimson Lewis.

The winter 2020 season will also include a new musical adaptation by Nancy Harris and Marc Teitler of The Magician's Elephant, based on the novel by Kate DiCamillo and directed by Sarah Tipple. The production will run from 29 October until 17 January 2021 in the Royal Shakespeare Theatre.

The Royal Shakespeare Company First Encounters with Shakespeare series returns in September with a new production of Twelfth Night, directed and edited by Robin Belfield.

For more than a decade, the RSC has taken First Encounters productions—edited versions of the plays performed using Shakespeare's original language—on the road into the hearts of communities.

The production will open at local schools followed by performances in the Swan Theatre before going on a seven-week tour of schools and regional theatres across England.

The RSC has also announced that its production of The Winter’s Tale, which will open in the summer in Stratford, will go on a national tour in January 2021. Confirmed venues include Salford's The Lowry, Bradford’s Alhambra Theatre, Canterbury’s Marlowe Theatre and Newcastle-upon-Tyne's Theatre Royal.