A rep company of 27 actors that reflects the nation “in terms of gender, ethnicity, regionality and disability” is being formed by the Royal Shakespeare Company, to perform as part of its summer season next year.
The shows – As You Like It, The Taming of the Shrew and Measure for Measure – will tour in repertoire to six venues in 2019, following their initial runs at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre next summer.
The RSC said the Shakespeare Theatre would be reconfigured for the shows, allowing for “new perspectives on the action”.
Artistic director Gregory Doran will direct Measure for Measure, with Kimberley Sykes helming As You Like It and Justin Audibert directing The Taming of the Shrew.
Doran said: “This season reflects the power of storytelling in its most essential form, with the actor at the centre of the work. With Justin Audibert and Kimberley Sykes, I am creating a company which reflects the nation in terms of gender, ethnicity, regionality, and disability – 27 actors who will all appear in two out of the three plays.”
He added: “We will build on our commitment to inclusivity and create a truly shared theatrical experience. We are also making some exciting changes to the Royal Shakespeare Theatre auditorium specifically for this season by extending the audience further round the stage at the circle levels than ever before, creating new perspectives on the action, truly exploiting the unique qualities of our thrust stage, showing our work in a completely new way.”
Doran added that touring all three shows in repertoire was “something that is rarely achieved with large-scale productions”.
As You Like It will run from February 14 to August 31, with The Taming of the Shrew playing from March 8 to August 31 and Measure for Measure running from June 28 to August 29.
The Swan Theatre, meanwhile, will mark 25 years since the ending of apartheid in South Africa, with a season including the world premiere of Kunene and the King, by John Kani. This will run from March 21 to April 23.
Following this, Phillip Breen will direct The Provoked Wife by John Vanbrugh, and Prasanna Puwanarajah will helm Venice Preserved by Thomas Otway.
Elsewhere, the RSC has announced a new adult participation project which aims to reach 3,000 adults through productions, workshops and trips to the theatre.
The RSC said it was aimed at communities who would “not normally engage with theatre and Shakespeare”.