The RSC in Stratford-upon-Avon has announced its new season for 2023, including Alex Kingston playing Prospero in a new production of The Tempest.
The season in 2023 marks the 400th anniversary of the publication of Shakespeare’s First Folio, and will feature six reimaginings of Shakespeare titles – 5 of which would have been lost forever if the First Folio had not been published in 1623.
The five plays are The Tempest, Julius Caesar, Cymbeline, As You Like It and Macbeth, which will run consecutively from January to October 2023.
There will also be a new production of Hamlet, chosen by Next Generation Act, the RSC’s young company for talented young people from backgrounds under-represented in the arts.
The RSC will also mark the official opening of submissions for its nationwide playwriting project; 37 Plays which will create a living folio of bold new work which captures the stories of our nation now.
The new season announcement comes the week after the RSC announced that their new artistic directors would be Daniel Evans of Chichester Festival Theatre and Tamara Harvey of Theatr Clywd, starting in June 2023.
The theme of the new season is around questions of power: who holds it, who should, how does it change human beings, how might power shift and what could be transformed in our world as a result?
The season opens with Elizabeth Freestone’s The Tempest, featuring stage and screen star Alex Kingston returning to the RSC to play Prospero, alongside Jessica Rhodes playing Miranda. The Tempest will run in the Royal Shakespeare Theatre from 26 January to 4 March 2023.
Julius Caesar will be directed by The Stage Debut Award winner Atri Banerjee, making his RSC debut. It will run from 18 March to 8 April 2023, before touring nine venues in the UK including The Marlowe Theatre Canterbury, Hall for Cornwall, Truro, The Alhambra, Bradford, Theatre Royal, Newcastle, The Grand Theatre, Blackpool, Theatre Royal, Nottingham, Theatre Royal, Norwich, Theatre Royal in York and The Lowry, Salford.
Banerjee has recently directed an acclaimed production of Tennessee Williams’ The Glass Menagerie for the Royal Exchange Manchester.
William Shakespeare’s dark fairytale Cymbeline will be directed by former RSC Artistic Director, and RSC Artistic Director Emeritus, Gregory Doran. This will mark his 50th production for the Royal Shakespeare Company, and open on 22 April – ahead of the weekend of Shakespeare’s birthday, running to 27 May 2023.
A new production of As You Like It will then follow, directed by Olivier award-nominated director, writer and dramaturg Omar Elerian. The production will run in Summer 2023, with dates to be announced.
In July 2023, Paul Ainsworth will direct the RSCs young company of 13-18 year olds recruited from across the country, to present their interpretation of Shakespeare’s Hamlet in The Other Place. In this abridged version, they will explore the unstable state of Denmark through the eyes of the younger generation in the play and how the actions of those in power effect the inheritors of the nation.
Finally, in Autumn 2023 award-winning director and site-specific theatre-maker Wils Wilson will direct a new interpretation of Shakespeare’s Macbeth, with dates to be announced.
Statement from Erica Whyman
Erica Whyman, Acting Artistic Director of the RSC, said in a statement:
“As the RSC embarks on a new chapter, with a fresh and fearless determination to look at ourselves and our world through the lens of Shakespeare’s plays, all of our creative activity in 2023 will address questions of power. Who has it, who doesn’t, how does it change a human being, when does it corrupt, and how might it disrupt and liberate?
“I have chosen five plays that would have been lost forever if we didn’t have the First Folio, published in an act of remarkable conviction in 1623, seven years after Shakespeare’s death. The Folio invested enormous lasting power in one playwright, who was himself fascinated by how power is apportioned according to race, gender, class and birth right and how rarely the smartest and the bravest people are afforded power.
“Our young company have chosen to explore Hamlet, as it speaks so vividly of the fragility of the world we live in.
“These six fascinating and wonderfully different plays explore political power, the crumbling of imperial power, the power of young people, especially young women, to free themselves from expectation and find new ways of living, and the terrible psychological destruction of the murderous desire for power.
“In the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, we won’t be in repertory this year but have chosen to present these six plays as standalone events. We love the benefits of playing in rep and will be returning to it, but we are experimenting with new models. This pattern allows each play a very distinct identity, and a unique company of actors, allowing us to be more surprising as we reveal the intentions behind each production. The five directors offer different approaches, influences and instincts and share a commitment to release courageous new meaning in the plays.
“We are making our work in new ways, collaborating with local and national communities to inform our thinking and creative impulses, and opening doors to new collaborators and new talent. In the diverse expression of inventive theatre artists across our platforms – from the activism of our young ambassadors, to the ambitious quest to find 37 plays to stand proudly next to Shakespeare as a folio of our own time – we will set out to put power in new hands and ask how can theatre encourage curiosity and debate about power in a shifting world.”