RSC and Barbican rekindle relationship with three-year partnership

The Barbican in London
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The Royal Shakespeare Company’s artistic director Gregory Doran has announced the organisation is entering into a three-year relationship with the Barbican more than 10 years since it “walked out” on the London venue in 2002.

In his first full programme for the RSC since becoming artistic director, Doran confirmed that the company will work with the Barbican for the next three years until 2016 adding that he hoped to develop the relationship further in the future.

He warned that the two theatres were “dating” and “not announcing wedding plans”.

The London theatre, which was the permanent home of the RSC until 2002, is already hosting the transfer of Richard II starring David Tenant as part of this year’s RSC winter season.

The RSC will now extend this partnership, starting with the transfer of Henry IV parts 1 and 2, which open the company’s 2014 season.

Doran said: “The Barbican is perhaps the best stage we currently have in London for the RSC’s work. We hope that we will be able to provide the entirety of what we do at Stratford in London at some point and develop the relationship with the Barbican to try and achieve that.”

The artistic director said that the company was looking for a London base and not a permanent new home.

“What we want is London base, a sense of continuity and sense of being able to show not just the main house work but the entire context of what we do and the Barbican allows us to extend our education and events departments for example,” said Doran.

He added: “Ultimately the RSC’s home will always be Stratford, that’s where we make the work. What we need…is a base in London to which we can take our work. We don’t want to run it 52 weeks a year. I think that was what quintessentially caused the rift in the first place.”

He said the partnership with the Barbican was not considered for a long time because of the “sense of embarrassment” from when the RSC “walked out” on the London venue.

However Doran added that this new partnership with the Barbican did not mean that the RSC would stop looking for other venues to take its work to in London.

Doran also confirmed that, starting with this year’s productions, the RSC will stage Shakespeare’s entire First Folio of 36 plays by 2019.

Anthony Sher is to star as Falstaff in the Henry IV plays, which run at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre from March 2014 before transferring to the Barbican in December. The show will also run at Newcastle’s Theatre Royal and tours for five weeks to UK venues.

Also featuring in next year’s summer programme will be The Two Gentlemen of Verona, which runs from July and will be directed by Simon Godwin.

At the Swan Theatre, a season of Jacobean plays that showcase parts for women will run from April 2014.

Called Roaring Girls, the programme will begin with Thomas Middleton and Thomas Dekker’s The Roaring Girl, directed by Jo Davies.

Following this, there will be a production of Arden of Faversham, thought to be written by Christopher Marlowe, Thomas Kyd or Shakespeare. It will be directed by Polly Findlay. Lastly, Maria Aberg will direct The White Devil by John Webster.

Meanwhile, a UK tour of A Midsummer Night’s Dream is planned for 2016, which will include performances from local non-professional actors at each location.

Called Dream 16, the show will allow schoolchildren to play Titania’s fairy train and amateur drama groups to appear as the mechanicals and Bottom.

The tour will form part of the RSC’s celebrations marking the 450th anniversary of Shakespeare’s birth on April 23, 2014 and 400 years since his death in 2016.

As part of these celebrations, which will be called Shakespeare Nation, the RSC will expand its programme of free broadcasts into schools by featuring three shows a year.

There will also be a new touring production of The Taming of the Shrew beginning at the Courtyard Theatre in February 2014, which will be aimed at 8-13 year olds. It will feature actors playing the opposite gender.