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Amateur companies from across the UK to join RSC’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Cast members from A Midsummer Night's Dream – A Play For the Nation. Photo: Topher McGrillis Cast members from A Midsummer Night's Dream – A Play For the Nation. Photo: Topher McGrillis
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Amateur companies from 12 regions of the UK are to take part in the Royal Shakespeare Company’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream – A Play for the Nation.

The tour opens in February 2016 at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon, and sees the RSC working with 13 partner theatres, 84 amateur performers and 580 schoolchildren, alongside 18 professional actors.

Amateur companies taking part include the Nonentities and the Bear Pit, from the West Midlands, Tower Theatre from London and the Everyman Theatre in Cardiff.

In the tour, the amateur companies will play the Mechanicals, with schoolchildren playing Titania’s fairy train.

Earlier this year, the RSC agreed to pay amateurs in the production the minimum wage after Equity objected to plans to use them unpaid.

RSC deputy artistic director Erica Whyman said the RSC had “cast people from all kinds of backgrounds, with a wonderful range of voices, shapes and sizes”.

“These first steps in creating a true play for a nation have been inspiring, humbling and very refreshing,” she added.

The RSC has also announced further details of its broadcast plans for the tour, which will see the BBC produce nine regional programmes following the tour and its work with the amateurs. Each programme will finish with the opening night of each region’s performance.

The series is called The Best Bottoms in the Land.

BBC English regions head of programming Craig Henderson said: “We’ll be following the ups and downs, as local amateur performers rub shoulders with some of our finest Shakespearean actors, giving regional audiences a fascinating inside track on the productions over the coming year.”

BBC2 will also broadcast the RSC’s Shakespeare Gala on April 23, 2016. This marks the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death.

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