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RSC returns to Barbican with David Tennant as Richard II

David Tennant as Hamlet in the RSC's 2008 production. Photo: Tristram Kenton
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Artistic director Gregory Doran has announced the Royal Shakespeare Company’s winter season, including David Tennant as Richard II and a stage adaptation of Hilary Mantel’s Booker Prize-winning novels Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies.

Doran will direct Richard II, reuniting with Tennant, who starred in his 2008 production of Hamlet. Oliver Ford Davies will play the Duke of York.

Following its run from October at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon, the show will transfer in December to London’s Barbican Centre, former home of the RSC in London. It marks the first time that the RSC has transferred a production there in a decade, and the first Shakespeare production since the company’s acrimonious departure from the City of London venue in 2002.

Speaking at a press conference today, Doran said that a new permanent London home for the RSC was “a priority”, but stressed that he had had “absolutely no conversations” with the Barbican about the RSC returning there on a long-term basis. He said that the RSC was transferring Richard II to the Barbican because it was “the best theatre that [the production] could possibly be in in London”.

The show is the first in a new cycle of Shakespeare’s history plays that Doran will direct over the coming seasons. He said that the winter 2013 season would serve as a “prologue” to a five-year project to produce all of Shakespeare’s canon, “producing all of his plays in our new Royal Shakespeare Theatre, but without repeating titles in that time”. Meanwhile, the company will also celebrate the quatercentenary of Shakespeare’s death in 2016 with a “major nationwide event”.

Meanwhile, the stage adaptations of Mantel’s novels will be staged in the Swan Theatre from December. They are adapted by Mike Poulton, commissioned by Playful Productions, directed by Jeremy Herrin and will play in repertoire. According to Doran, Mantel will be working into the productions new sections that were omitted from her two novels.

The RST’s Christmas show will be a new adaptation of Peter Pan by Ella Hickson, entitled Wendy and Peter Pan. It will focus on the story from Wendy’s point of view and be directed by Jonathan Munby.

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