The Royal Shakespeare Company are returning to their spiritual London home at The Barbican later this year with a number of exciting productions transferring from The Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford Upon Avon. For Shakespeare fans these productions offer an exciting opportunity to see some of his greatest works performed as part of a wider season, drawing together some of the finest stage talent in the UK.
London favourite Simon Russell Beale begins the season starring as Prospero in a new ground-breaking production of Shakespeare's late play The Tempest directed by RSC Artistic Director Gregory Doran. The company have collaborated with tech giant Intel to produce this bold new version of one of the Bard's most magical plays, drawing together technology never before seen on the stage to bring the world to life.
"On a distant island a man waits. Robbed of his position, power and wealth, his enemies have left him in isolation. But this is no ordinary man, and this no ordinary island. Prospero is a magician, able to control the very elements and bend nature to his will. When a sail appears on the horizon, he reaches out across the ocean to the ship that carries the men who wronged him. Creating a vast magical storm he wrecks the ship and washes his enemies up on the shore. When they wake they find themselves lost on a fantastical island where nothing is as it seems."
Frequently voted one of the nation's most popular Shakespeare plays The Tempest is perfect for young theatregoers as well as those new to seeing Shakespeare live on stage. Described as a "magnificent production" by the Sunday Express, critics praised the state-of-the-art stagecraft and the "career-best performance by Simon Russell Beale" (Financial Times) making for one of the most exciting theatrical events of the year.
The Barbican run of The Tempest runs from 30 June to 18 August 2017 and is set to be a perfect summer treat for all the family.
Following the run of The Tempest the RSC's newest season, Rome MMXVII runs at The Barbican from 6 November to 20 January 2018. Transporting audiences to Shakespeare’s Rome comes four of his most famous works, Coriolanus, Julius Caesar, Antony and Cleopatra and Titus Andronicus in bold new productions led by Season Director Angus Jackson. On the vast expanses of The Barbican stage, the collection is set to expose the decadence, politics, power play and corruption of Ancient Rome, charting the decline of an empire from birth to eventual implosion.
"A full-throttle war play that revels in the sweat of the battlefield, Coriolanus transports us back to the emergence of the republic of Rome. Caius Martius Coriolanus is a fearless soldier but a reluctant leader. His ambitious mother attempts to carve him a path to power yet he struggles to change his nature and do what is required to achieve greatness. Now he must decide who he really is and where his allegiances lie."
Angus Jackson directs rising talent Sope Dirisu in the title role in this new production that features design by Robert Innes Hopkins, lighting by Richard Howell and sound by Carolyn Downing.
"Caesar returns from war, an all-conquering hero, but mutiny is rumbling through the corridors of power. Although Brutus loves Caesar, he is persuaded to kill him for the greater good, and like all conspirators loses control of the consequences."
Angus Jackson directs Andrew Woodall in the title role alongside Alex Waldmann as Brutus and Martin Hutson as Cassius in a production designed by Robert Innes Hopkins with lighting by Tim Mitchell, music by Mira Calix, sound by Carolyn Downing and movement by Scott Ambler.
"Following Caesar’s assassination, Mark Antony has reached the heights of power. Now he has neglected his empire for a life of decadent seduction with his mistress, Cleopatra, Queen of Egypt. Torn between love and duty, Antony’s military brilliance deserts him, and his passion leads the lovers to their tragic end."
Iqbal Khan returns to the RSC to direct Josette Simon and Antony Byrne in the title roles. Singer-songwriter Laura Mvula has written original music for this production which is designed one again by Robert Innes Hopkins with lighting by Tim Mitchell and sound by Carolyn Downing.
The conclusion of the Rome season comes to a head in Shakespeare’s most brutal and bloody play that brings gory revenge and murder as a form of entertainment.
"Titus is a ruler exhausted by war and loss. He relinquishes power but leaves Rome in disorder. Rape, cannibalism and severed body parts fill the moral void at the heart of this corrupt world. As the body count piles up, the tragedy poses questions about the nature of sexuality, family, class and society."
Blanche McIntyre directs David Troughton in the lead role.