RSC announces Crooked Dances, a new play by Robin French at The Other Place in Stratford-Upon-Avon

Royal Shakespeare Company
  • Crooked Dances by award-winning playwright and screen-writer Robin French, co-writer of the hit BBC 3 sitcom Cuckoo.
  • Researchers shed light on the first-ever English novel in Beware the Cat, a unique one-hour work in progress exploring witchcraft, religious controversy and talking cats.

‘One of the things that often surprises people about the Royal Shakespeare Company is that we don’t only do Shakespeare. There’s a very healthy cross-fertilization with contemporary writers, whether that’s plays at The Other Place, the Swan Theatre or on the main stage in the Royal Shakespeare Theatre. Writing for big stages is what we hope to inspire playwrights to do, just as Shakespeare did. As a company, it’s vital that we listen to the voices of today in order to reflect upon the world we live in now and who knows, maybe the new works of today will be the classics of tomorrow.” Gregory Doran (Artistic Director)

Crooked Dances

 By Robin French

Directed by Elizabeth Freestone

The Other Place, Stratford-upon-Avon

 Thu 20 June – Sat 13 Jul

 Press night: Wed 26 June at 7pm

The Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) has today announced the stage premiere of Crooked Dances, a bold new work by award-winning playwright and screenwriter Robin French directed by Elizabeth Freestone. The production will run from Thursday 20 June to Saturday 13 July in the Studio Theatre at The Other Place which, since its re-opening in 2016, has been home to new commissions by some of today’s most exciting theatre-makers.

Journalist Katy is desperate for her big break, and an interview in Paris with world famous concert pianist Silvia de Zingaro looks like just her chance.

 But the odds are against her. After a disastrous interview, Katy feels certain there’s a bigger story there than meets the eye. She hunts for clues, finding Silvia has a collection of mystical books and an apparent fixation with composer Erik Satie. Just as Katy’s hope begins to fade, a mysterious night-time encounter with the pianist may well give her the scoop she’s looking for…

This compelling new play examines music, time and attention in our modern digital age. Crooked Dances is designed by Basia Bińkowska and further creative and casting information will follow.

Playwright Robin French said “Having felt ready to write a new play, I approached the RSC, knowing that Literary Manager Pippa Hill has an extraordinary talent for unlocking writers. Sure enough, the first inspiration for the play came. I was on a train, listening to a playlist on Spotify. When I heard Erik Satie’s Crooked Dances for the first time, I felt a strong intuition that that was where the treasure was buried. The play that evolved melds my fascination with Satie’s music with the preoccupations of our 21st Century digital society. I’m delighted to be working with the brilliant director Elizabeth Freestone on this, my first commission with the Royal Shakespeare Company, and I can’t wait to share it with audiences.”

 Director Elizabeth Freestone added, From reading the first few lines in Robin’s play, I was hooked. He creates a funny, vivid and spell-binding atmosphere as the extraordinary story of Silvia’s life unfolds. Nothing you are told is quite as straightforward as it seems and nothing you see is quite what you expect. It’s a fantastic challenge to realise the ideas and images Robin is exploring – the power of music, the nature of time, the fragility of real human connection. Directing such a powerful and provocative new play for the RSC’s iconic The Other Place is an exciting prospect. We’ll be using projection, live music and possibly a few surprises to create a full and theatrical experience for the audience.”

Robin French is an award-winning playwright and screenwriter. His hit sitcom Cuckoo, written with long-term collaborator Kieron Quirke and starring Greg Davies was BBC3’s most-watched comedy launch and went on to gain a repeat run on BBC1 as well as nominations at BAFTA and the British Comedy Awards.

Robin’s first play, Bear Hug, won the Royal Court Young Writer’s Festival and was produced at the Royal Court in 2004, where it earned an extended run. He is a writer in residence for The Birmingham Rep, and under commission to the RSC. His film Crocodile won awards at Cannes, Encounters, and Guanajuato festival in Mexico, and was BIFA nominated for Best British short. Robin is currently writing a feature film about David Bowie and Iggy Pop, as well as developing new drama projects for television.

Elizabeth Freestone is a freelance director whose previous credits include Endless Light (Kali/Southwark Playhouse); The Duchess of Malfi, Dr Faustus, The School for Scandal, Volpone (Greenwich Theatre); Romeo and Juliet (Shakespeare’s Globe); The Water Harvest (Theatre503) and Left On Church Street (Bridewell).

Previous productions for the RSC include The Rape of LucreceHere Lies Mary SpindlerThe Tragedy of Thomas Hobbes and The Comedy of Errors. She was the Associate Director for A Caucasian Chalk Circle at the National and was an assistant director at the Royal Court, Soho and Hampstead. Elizabeth was Artistic Director of Pentabus Theatre from 2012 to 2017, for whom she directed Slow Dusk by Rory Mullarkey, In This Place by Frances Brett and Lydia Adetunji, This Same England with Lorraine Stanley, Stand Up Diggers All by Phil Porter and The Hay Play by Nell Leyshon.

 Beware the Cat

 The Other Place, Stratford-upon-Avon

 Sat 6 July at 5pm

Joining Crooked Dances in The Other Place, the RSC welcomes a thought-provoking, one-hour performance inspired by the first ever English novel by William Baldwin.

The novel, Beware the Cat, was first written in 1552 before many of the more well-known early modern writers published their first work. It tells a tale of witchcraft, religious controversy and talking cats in a bid to help us imagine what animals might say about the world if they had the ability to talk.

Professor Frances Babbage from the University of Sheffield’s School of English, and Dr Rachel Stenner from the School of English at the University of Sussex, have worked with Terry O’Connor from UK theatre ensemble Forced Entertainment on a project to adapt the novel into a theatre performance for audiences across the UK.

In this special performance, audiences are invited to share in this funny, satirical tale of alchemical exploration for the first time, featuring unique artworks representing the cat-world by artist Penny McCarthy.

 RSC to tour 3 productions in repertoire for the first time to 6 UK Venues in 2019-20

Royal Shakespeare Company


For the first time the Royal Shakespeare Company will tour three productions in repertoire to six regional theatres, playing for two weeks in each venue.  As You Like ItThe Taming of the Shrew and Measure for Measure will visit Salford in September 2019, and then Canterbury, Plymouth, Nottingham, Newcastle upon Tyne and Blackpool in early 2020.  Performance dates at the end of the release.

The productions originally open in the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon, running between February and August 2019.

The company will feature 27 actors, who will each appear in two of the three productions.  As You Like Itis directed by Kimberley Sykes, The Taming of the Shrew by Justin Audibert, and Measure for Measureby RSC Artistic Director, Gregory Doran.  Set design for all three productions is by Stephen Brimson Lewis, Director of Design for the RSC.

Gregory Doran, RSC Artistic Director, said: We have worked hard to assemble a company of actors which reflects the nation in ways it has never done before. Featuring a 50/50 gender balanced ensemble, we have brought together talent from all corners of the United Kingdom, reflecting both the ethnic, geographical and cultural diversity of Britain today and those artists that are underrepresented on our stages. We want to create a season of work which places contemporary audiences at its heart, which speaks directly to the present moment.”

Erica Whyman, RSC Deputy Artistic Director, added: “We want as many people as possible to see our work, and we really believe Shakespeare should be for everyone, so taking plays around our nation is an essential part of what we do. I’m delighted that this new tour will give audiences the chance to see not just one production, but our wonderful company of actors in three very different plays.  My Romeo and Juliet is currently making its way around the UK, as is our award-winning Matilda The Musical, and later this year we will take our First Encounters with Shakespeare production of The Merchant of Venice into regional theatres and schools, ensuring we are a truly national theatre company.”


Following her roles in Dido Queen of CarthageJulius Caesar and Antony and Cleopatra in 2017, Lucy Phelps returns to play Rosalind in Kimberley Sykes’ production of As You Like It. She will be joined byDavid Ajao as Orlando whose previous productions for the RSC include The Merchant of Venice, Othello and Hecuba. 

The full cast includes Charlotte Arrowsmith (Audrey), Patrick Brennan (Corin), Graeme Brookes(Charles/Forester), Antony Byrne (Duke Senior/Duke Frederick), Richard Clews (Adam), Tom Dawze(William), Amelia Donkor (Silvia), Laura Elsworthy (Phoebe), Sandy Grierson (Touchstone), Emily Johnstone (Amiens/Le Beau), Alex Jones (A Lord), Karina Jones (Martext), Sophie Khan Levy(Celia), Sophie Stanton (Jaques), Aaron Thiara (Jaques de Bois/Dennis) and Leo Wan (Oliver).

Stephen Brimson Lewis will design the set for As You Like It with Bretta Gerecke designing both costumes and lighting in a first for the RSC. Music is composed by Tim Sutton, with sound by Jonathan Ruddick and movement by Ayse Tashkiran. Fights by Rachel Bown-Williams and Ruth Cooper-Brown. Puppetry Director and Co-Designer,  Mervyn Millar.


Claire Price plays Petruchia and Joseph Arkley plays Katherine in Justin Audibert’s reimagined staging of The Taming of the Shrew and will do so among a cast where women play the roles written as men, and men play those written as women.

The full cast includes Charlotte Arrowsmith (Curtis), Hannah Azuonye (Pedant), Melody Brown(Vincentia), Richard Clews (Grumio), James Cooney (Bianco), Amelia Donkor (Hortensia), Laura Elsworthy (Trania), Amanda Harris (Baptista), Emily Johnstone (Lucentia), Alex Jones(Haberdasher), Alexander Mushore (Servant), Michael Patrick (Tailor), Sophie Stanton (Gremia)Aaron Thiara (Servant of Petruchia) Amy Trigg (Biondella) and Leo Wan (Widower).

The set for The Taming of the Shrew is designed by Stephen Brimson Lewis with costume design byHannah Clark and lighting by Matt Peel. Music is composed by Ruth Chan, sound by Claire Windsor, and movement by Lucy Cullingford. Fights are by Rachel Bown-Williams and Ruth Cooper-Brown.


Sandy Grierson, who took on the roles of Faustus and Mephistopheles in Maria Aberg’s 2016 production of Dr Faustus, will play Angelo in Gregory Doran’s staging of Measure for Measure. Following his performance as Antony in Antony and CleopatraAntony Byrne returns to play The Duke. They are joined by Lucy Phelps in the role of Isabella.

Full casting for Measure for Measure includes David Ajao (Pompey), Joseph Arkley (Lucio), Hannah Azuonye (Lady), Patrick Brennan (Abhorson/Friar Thomas), Graeme Brookes (Mistress Overdone/Barnadine), Melody Brown (Justice), James Cooney (Claudio), Tom Dawze (Froth),Amanda Harris (Provost), Karina Jones (Sister Francisca), Sophie Khan Levy (Mariana), Alexander Mushore (Gent), Michael Patrick (Elbow), Claire Price (Escalus) and Amy Trigg (Juliet).

The set and costumes for Measure for Measure are designed by RSC Director of Design, Stephen Brimson Lewis, with lighting by Simon Spencer. Music is composed by Paul Englishby. Sound is bySteven Atkinson, and fights are by Rachel Bown-Williams and Ruth Cooper-Brown.

RSC announces 2019 Winter Season

Royal Shakespeare Company

Artistic Director, Gregory Doran, today announced the Royal Shakespeare Company’s (RSC) Winter 2019 season which includes the world stage premiere of a new musical adaptation of The Boy in the Dress, based on the best-selling novel by David Walliams with songs by Robbie Williams and Guy Chambers. The new musical, directed by Gregory Doran, plays for eighteen weeks in the Royal Shakespeare Theatre from November 2019 to March 2020.

David Walliams said: “I’m delighted to be working with the Royal Shakespeare Company to bring this, my first children’s novel, to the stage. It’s now 10 years since The Boy in the Dresswas first published and we’ve come a long way in that time. Ultimately, I wanted to write a story that encouraged people to recognise that difference can be celebrated, that it’s ok to be yourself. I’ve always loved musicals and, somehow, I’d always imagined this book to be made into a musical so to be working with the RSC, Mark Ravenhill and song-writing partners Robbie Williams and Guy Chambers on this new production feels like a dream collaboration.”

Mark Ravenhill said: “I first came across The Boy in the Dress when I was Playwright in Residence at the Royal Shakespeare Company back in 2012. I remember thinking that it was such a gripping, entertaining and life-affirming story with all the ingredients of a great stage show. The Royal Shakespeare Company has a fantastic track record of producing family shows so when David suggested making his novel into a musical, I thought, let’s go for it! Creating and commissioning new work is very much at the heart of the RSC’s mission, and a musical collaboration of this kind is the perfect celebration of all of that energy, talent and generosity coming together to create, what will hopefully be a really fantastic theatre experience for audiences of all ages.”

 Robbie Williams and Guy Chambers added; “We’re beyond excited to be working with the RSC on our first musical theatre collaboration. We are both big fans of David’s books, so when he approached us about writing the soundtrack to a new musical version of The Boy in the Dressfor the RSC, we were genuinely delighted. There’s a real freshness, cheekiness and heart to David’s writing which we’ve worked really hard to capture in the music. It’s been a really exciting and rewarding journey and we can’t wait to share the show with audiences when it premieres in Stratford-upon-Avon this winter”.

In the Swan Theatre

Deputy Artistic Director, Erica Whyman, will curate a new season of work in the Swan Theatre including King John, directed by Eleanor Rhode; A Museum in Baghdad by Hannah Khalil, directed by Erica Whyman in a co-commission with Edinburgh’s Royal Lyceum Theatre; andThe Whip by Juliet Gilkes Romero which will be directed by Kimberley Sykes.

Gregory Doran said “Continuing our commitment to producing theatre that is relevant to everyone, this season brings together perhaps Shakespeare’s most contemporary of history plays and three new works, each of which – in their own way – channel Shakespeare’s spirit through beautifully crafted storytelling, richness of character and looking in the eye the biggest questions of our time.

 “Building on a successful tradition of new work created by the RSC for Christmas, we open our season with our new musical production of The Boy in the Dress, adapted by Mark Ravenhill, which I will direct. Based on the much-loved children’s novel, this funny and life-affirming storyhas been over six years in the making and features the coming-together of some of the UK’s best-loved creative talent: comic writer and performer, David Walliams, and chart-topping songwriters Robbie Williams and Guy Chambers. It’s a beautifully crafted story about football and fashion, and a passionate celebration of individuality.

 “We are now two thirds of the way through our project to stage every Shakespeare play in the First Folio. For our 25th Shakespeare production in the canon, we welcome emerging talent Eleanor Rhode in her RSC debut directing King John in the Swan Theatre. When I directed this fascinating play in 2001, it was only the fourth time the play had been produced by the RSC in its entire history. Since then, it has been explored much more frequently which surely attests to a growing interest in how the play speaks to our world today.

 “The cross-fertilisation of the classics and new writing has always been part of the RSC and Deputy Artistic Director Erica Whyman will curate a new season of plays to accompany King John in the Swan Theatre. Together, these plays shine a spotlight on two fascinating – if overlooked – moments in British imperial history: the founding of the nation-state of Iraq and the government bail-out of British slave-owners to secure the Abolition of Slavery Act in 1833. As with all great history plays, Hannah Khalil’s A Museum in Baghdad directed by Erica Whyman and Juliet Gilkes Romero’s The Whip directed by Kimberley Sykes demonstrate a deep respect for telling untold stories, exploring issues of power, responsibility and identity through the lens of a group of remarkable human beings, navigating their own place within a changing world.”

 Deputy Artistic Director Erica Whyman added;

“As we approach 2019, there’s no way of escaping the fact that we, as a nation, are looking long and hard at our position within the wider world, which is why it feels like an appropriate moment to reflect, not only upon the state of our own nation, but also upon what nationhood means to us today. Like Shakespeare’s King JohnA Museum in Baghdad and The Whip are plays which aren’t afraid to confront big issues and ideas. What does it mean to be a post-imperial nation? Black-British? Middle Eastern British? Fundamentally, this is a season about what it means to be ‘British’ and what responsibility must we take for our past as we embark on an uncertain future.

 “It’s particularly thrilling to have two ambitious, historical works by women performed alongside the epic yet intimate King John in the Swan Theatre. In doing so we are helping to ensure that new writing remains central to what we do and that we continue to channel the inquiring spirit of Shakespeare’s own age through the interrogation of our own history and place in the wider world, in all of its complexity and contradiction”.

 First Encounters with Shakespeare: The Merchant of Venice

 Building on the success of the 2018 production of The Comedy of Errors, the RSC First Encounters with Shakespeare series continues with a new production of The Merchant of Venice directed and edited by Robin Belfield. The production will open at local schools followed by a week of performances in the Swan Theatre. The production will then embark upon a seven-week tour of schools and regional theatres across England. Adobe will co-present the 2019 tour which, for the first time, will include a digital learning experience through Adobe Spark and Creative Cloud.

For over a decade the RSC has been taking First Encounters productions – edited versions of the plays performed using Shakespeare’s original language – on the road into the heart of communities and they have been enjoyed by over 100,000 people to date.

In collaboration with our Regional Theatre Partners and Associate Schools, this production also sees 24 young actors from the RSC’s Next Generation Company take on the parts of Jessica and Lorenzo, the two young people caught up in a clash between family, money and culture. Next Generation ACT is made up of young people under the age of 18 who show a talent for performance but otherwise wouldn’t have the opportunity to develop it. Next Generation ACT is a national company with young people drawn from each of the English regions meaning that wherever the production plays, the roles of Jessica and Lorenzo will be taken by young people from that area.

 Live at The RSC: Stand up Comedy

The RSC, in association with Underbelly, brings together some of the biggest names in UK stand-up comedy this Autumn as part of a fortnight of live performance on the Royal Shakespeare Theatre stage.

Underbelly last visited the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) in 2015 with Comedy Hullabaloo, a five-day festival which saw over 5,000 visitors watch 25 of the UK’s best comedians in iconic and intimate settings across Stratford-upon-Avon.

The programme, which runs from Thurs 12 to Sat 21 September, forms part of Live at the RSC, which offers audiences the best in new music and comedy.

Past events have seen Al Murray, David Baddiel, Jenny Eclair and Russell Kane all taking to the RSC stages.

Further details of acts will be announced in February 2019.



The Boy in the Dress

From the Novel by David Walliams

Book by Mark Ravenhill

Music & Lyrics by Robbie Williams & Guy Chambers

Director Gregory Doran

Designer Robert Jones

Choreographer Aletta Collins

Lighting Mark Henderson

Sound Paul Groothuis

Fri 8 November 2019 – Sun 8 March 2020*

Press night: Wed 27 November 2019, 7pm**


‘I think I might be different. I might not be the same’.

Dennis is twelve years old and his school football team’s star striker.  But when Mum leaves home, life is tough. The only reminder Dennis has of Mum is a photo of her in a beautiful yellow dress.  A dress rather like the one on the cover of Vogue on sale at Raj’s newsagents.  And also a bit like the one that Lisa James, the coolest girl in the school, is sketching in her note book. What do you do if you like both football and dresses?  And what will Mr Hawtrey the headteacher do when he discovers that his strict uniform code has been broken by a boy in a dress?

David Walliams’ heart-warming comedy is brought to the stage for the first time in a musical with all new songs from Robbie Williams and Guy Chambers, book by former RSC playwright in residence Mark Ravenhill and in a production for all the family directed by RSC Artistic Director Gregory Doran, who will also direct Measure for Measure in Summer 2019.

The Boy in the Dress is supported by RSC Production Circle members Elizabeth Boissevain and Andrew Jeffreys, Charles Holloway and Kathleen J. Yoh.

The Boy in the Dress by David Walliams with illustrations by Quentin Blake is published by HarperCollins Children’s Books.

A relaxed performance of The Boy in the Dress will take place on Thurs 13 February when the ambience of the auditorium and theatre ‘rules’ are relaxed. These performances are ideal for people with learning disabilities or autism, or anyone who would benefit from a more relaxed environment. A semi-Integrated BSL Interpreted performance of The Boy in the Dress will take place on Fri 24 January

**Reviews for The Boy in the Dress embargoed until 11.30pm on Thurs 28 November 2019

Live at The RSC: Stand Up Comedy

Royal Shakespeare Company in association with Underbelly

Thurs 12 – Sat 21 September

The RSC, in association with Underbelly, bring together some of the biggest names in UK stand-up comedy in a festival of live performance on the Royal Shakespeare Theatre stage.

Underbelly is a UK based, live entertainment company. Their events and festivals division operates one of the largest operations at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe selling over 291,000 tickets for over 150 shows over 25 days in 2017. This year marks the tenth year of Underbelly on the Southbank with Udderbelly and London Wonderground festivals – already two of the biggest multi-arts offerings in London – joining forces for Underbelly Festival Southbank.

Full programme details to be announced in Spring 2019.


King John by William Shakespeare

Director Eleanor Rhode

Designer Max Johns

Thurs 19 September 2019 – Sat 21 March 2020

Press night: Thurs 26 Sept 2019, 7pm


‘Mad world! mad kings! mad composition!’

Richard the Lionheart is dead. His brother John is King of England. Threatened from all sides by Europe, the English noblemen and even his own family, King John will stop at nothing to keep hold of his crown.

Shakespeare’s rarely performed tale of a nation in turmoil vibrates with modern resonance in this vivid new production by director Eleanor Rhode in her debut at the RSC.

King John will be filmed for later broadcast to cinemas as part of our Live From Stratford-upon-Avon series.

A Museum in Baghdad by Hannah Khalil

Director Erica Whyman

Designer Tom Piper

Lighting Charles Balfour

Music Oguz Kaplangi

Fri 11 October 2019 – Sat 25 January 2020

Press night: Tues 22 October, 7pm


A story of treasured history, desperate choices and the remarkable Gertrude Bell.

In 1926, the nation of Iraq is in its infancy, and British archaeologist Gertrude Bell is founding a museum in Baghdad. In 2006, Ghalia Hussein is attempting to reopen the museum despite the looting during the war.

Collapsing the decades that separate them, these two women seek the same prize: to create a fresh sense of unity and nationhood, to make the world anew through the museum and its treasures. But in such unstable times, questions remain. Who is the museum for? What rights do we have to try and shape someone else’s history? And why does that matter when people are dying? Deputy Artistic Director Erica Whyman (Romeo and Juliet and Miss Littlewood, 2018) directs this imaginative new play.

A Museum in Bagdad was co-commissioned by the RSC and the Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh.

 The Whip by Juliet Gilkes Romero

 Director Kimberley Sykes

Sat 1 February – Sat 21 March 2020

Press night: Tues 11 February 2020, 7pm


As the 19th Century dawns in London, politicians of all parties come together to abolish the slave trade once and for all. But the price of freedom turns out to be a multi-billion pound bailout for slave owners rather than those enslaved.

As morality and cunning compete amongst men thirsty for power, two women navigate their way to the true seat of political influence, challenging members of parliament who dare deny them their say.

In this provocative new play, directed by Kimberley Sykes (Dido, Queen of Carthage, 2017; As You Like It, 2019) the personal collides with the political to ask what is the right thing to do and how much must it cost?
The work of Juliet Gilkes Romero was supported through our collaboration with the University of Birmingham

 First Encounters with Shakespeare: The Merchant of Venice

 Directed and Edited by Robin Belfield

Mon 30 September – Sat 5 October 2019

Press performance: Thurs 26 September. Time tbc*

The RSC’s First Encounters with Shakespeare production of The Merchant of Venicecontinues the company’s commitment to creating live theatre for young people right in the heart of local communities.

The production, directed and edited by Robin Belfield, will visit the Swan Theatre from Monday 30 September to Saturday 5 October, before touring to schools, regional theatres and local communities with full details to be announced shortly.

*The Merchant of Venice will have its press performance during the afternoon of Thursday 26 September in a Midlands school, giving critics the chance to see it before the evening press performance of King John in the Swan Theatre.

Time to listen: Study reveals concern over impact of declining provision of arts & culture in schools

Royal Shakespeare Company

A landmark research project commissioned by Arts Council England – and involving schools and teachers who work with either the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) or Tate – outlines the overwhelmingly positive benefits of arts and cultural education on the lives of young people. The research, undertaken by the School of Education at the University of Nottingham, has led to calls for urgent change, as thousands of young people and teachers express concern over the impact that declining arts and cultural provision in schools will have on future generations.

Time to Listen, the first and most comprehensive survey of its kind, shows what students themselves say about the value of arts and cultural education. Researchers gathered 6,000 responses from students aged 11-18 and their teachers over three years.

The findings show the ways in which arts and cultural learning in the classroom opens doors to creative activities outside school hours. More than a third of the students said school is the only opportunity they have to engage in arts activities.

The survey was carried out against a background of funding cuts and a rapid decline in the number of arts teachers and hours spent on arts subjects in state-funded schools. There is now a growing gap in arts provision between state-maintained schools and the independent sector.

One clear and consistent message comes from the thousands of students who took part: arts and cultural learning taps into their imagination, creative instincts and self-worth in ways that other lessons do not. With no definitive right or wrong answers, arts subjects are shown to significantly help young people develop their own opinions as rounded individuals ready to contribute to their community and the wider world. The research focusses on the positive impact that arts-rich schools have on fostering independent thinking and creativity, confidence, well-being and empathy.

Talking about Time to Listen, Erica Whyman, RSC Deputy Artistic Director, said:

“The strong, consistent and thoughtful message from the young people in this study is that arts and cultural subjects are uniquely important in equipping them for both academic and employment success.

“If we want this generation to have the key skills required to thrive in the workplace of the future, we need to listen to them now.”

Maria Balshaw, Director of Tate added:

“We cannot overstate the case for an arts and cultural education for all. Arts subjects must be at the core of education provision in the UK in our schools, be they state-funded or independent, and in our universities. We must listen to the reverberating sound of the 6,000 voices that are part of this important piece of research and act now. Otherwise, we will be failing the children and students who are the creative future of the UK.”

Researchers Professor Christine Hall and Professor Pat Thomson, School of Education, the University of Nottingham, said:

“We researched in thirty schools across England where, despite a hostile policy environment, students were engaged in a rich and exciting arts and cultural education. Students told us that their arts subjects helped them to understand themselves, their everyday lives, and the world around them.

“The evidence from our study shows the importance of schools and teachers in making sure that all young people have the opportunity to experience what the arts have to offer.  The publicly funded school system in England has some way to go to make this a reality.”

In response to the research Anthony Seldon, Vice Chancellor, Buckingham University added:

“We all have a role to play in securing high quality access to the arts and culture for young people. This research tells us how valuable arts subjects and experiences are for students in schools – but it also tells us they are under significant threat. I call on Vice Chancellors across the country to play our part in securing the future of arts subjects in schools and universities by ensuring they are appropriately valued in our institutions. I ask Russell Group universities to review their approach to facilitating subjects and ensure we aren’t inadvertently telling young people that choosing arts subjects at A Level will close down their options.”

As a result of the research, and the growing body of evidence, the RSC and Tate are calling for five changes to support schools and ensure that arts and culture education features in all young people’s education:

1. All secondary schools should be able to:

  1. ensure that at key stage 3 the arts have parity with other subjects
  2. Offer a full range of arts subjects at key stage 4 (GSCE)
  3. Confidently talk to students and their families about the value of studying arts subjects

2. The Ofsted process should ensure the breadth and balance of the school curriculum by specifying in the inspection framework the minimum proportion of curriculum time to be spent studying arts subjects at key stage 3, and the range of arts subjects offered at key stage 4.1

3. There should be an Arts and Culture Premium for all children in schools2.

4. Russell Group universities should review their approach to Facilitating Subjects recognising that studying arts subjects can provide young people with an essential foundation for further study.

5. There should be acknowledgement and appropriate reward in both pay scale and job title for the work of teachers who take on the role of ‘arts broker’.

One teacher who participated in the study said,

“The biggest value of creative work for the students is working independently and solving problems and being given responsibility, because ultimately that is what life is about…”

Students’ comments included,

“In arts subjects there’s no such thing as perfection……It’s interpretation. Everyone will have a different opinion and you have to take it on board and reflect upon it”.

“I don’t think I’ve ever felt this motivated to want to do work.”

Students and teachers highlighted the key benefits of studying arts and culture subjects including:

  • building self-belief, risk taking, and confidence
  • providing an important release valve amidst growing pressure on young people at school
  • developing empathy and tolerance; appreciating difference and diversity

To coincide with the launch of the research, Tate has released a film Why Study Art? in which a wide range of cultural figures give their views on why an arts and cultural education is vital. To view the film visit The film can also be viewed on YouTube:

Casting announced for The Royal Shakespeare Company’s festive production of A Christmas Carol

Royal Shakespeare Company

Casting is announced for the Royal Shakespeare Company’s revival of David Edgar’s critically-acclaimed adaptation of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, which returns by popular demand following its hugely successful run in winter 2018.

Aden Gillett will make his RSC debut as Ebenezer Scrooge. Aden is known for his extensive television credits, which include Father Brown, Holby City, Silent Witness and House of Elliott. Previous stage appearances includeNoises Off (National Theatre),Twelfth Night (Donmar Warehouse) and Much Ado About Nothing at the Theatre Royal Bath. Aden received the Theatre World Award for ‘World’s Most Promising Newcomer’ for for his performance in An Inspector Calls at the Royale Theatre, Broadway. In November 2005, Aden joined the cast of the West End production of Mary Poppins playing the role of George Banks.

Further casting includes Victoria Blunt (Mrs Baldock/Caroline/Schoolboy/Housemaid), Tom Byrne(Fred/Sailor/Employee), Gerard Carey (Bob Cratchit/Miner/Employee), Claire Carrie (Lady Tibshelf/Christmas Past/Aunt/Laundress), Sally Cheng (Katherine/Belinda Cratchit/Emily/Schoolboy), Matthew Dale (Uber/Doctor/2ndBusinessman/Servant/Miner/Priest+), Steven Elliott (Marley/1st Businessman/Tumbler/2nd Lighthouse Keeper+),Clive Hayward (Fezziwig/Old Joe/Chestnut Seller/Robert/1st Lighthouse Keeper+), Danielle Henry (Mrs Trowell/Christmas Present/Mrs Fezziwig/Charwoman+), Samantha Hull (Swing), Beruce Khan (John Forster/Young Markey/Topper+), Sam Jenkins-Shaw (Father/Coachman/Hinge/Mr Baldock/George/Miner),Bethany Linsdell (Martha Cratchit/Amy/Cecilia/Schoolboy), Jessica Murrain (Isabel/Lucy+), Kwami Odoom(Wicker/Sailor+), Emma Pallant (Mrs Cratchit/Mrs Snapchat/Beggar/Matron+), Joey Phillips(Slingshot/Miner/Young Man+), Shiv Rabheru (Swing), Joseph Timms (Charles Dickens/Young Scrooge/Bowler+) and Rachel Winters (Fanny/Jane/Housemaid+).

A Christmas Carol is directed by Rachel Kavanaugh and designed by Stephen Brimson Lewis with lighting by Tim Mitchell. Music is by Catherine Jayes and sound by Fergus O’Hare. Movement is by Georgina Lamb.

David Edgar adapts Charles Dickens’ festive tale of redemption and compassion – one of the most loved short stories ever written.


By Charles Dickens

A new adaptation by David Edgar 

Directed by Rachel Kavanaugh

Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon: 4 Dec 2018 – 20 Jan 2019

Press night: Tues 11 Dec, 7pm

Box Office: 01789 403493

Best ticket prices for theatre, dance, music, and more in London!

Shakespeare by McBean

Shakespeare by McBean
Shakespeare by McBean

Shakespeare by McBean

The celebrated photographer Angus McBean is now best known for his portraits of Vivien Leigh, Audrey Hepburn and The Beatles. However, he always considered that his finest achievement was to record the works of our greatest playwright.

In his forty-year career he captured over 160 different productions of Shakespeare in Stratford-upon-Avon or London and, before his death in 1990, he planned that the best of these photographs should be brought together in print from the archives of the Royal Shakespeare Company.

At last his intention is being fulfilled with a magnificent new book, Shakespeare by McBean. This presents a dazzling array of the photographer’s trademark glamorous images when working at the Stratford theatre between 1945-1962, long regarded as a golden era in British acting. The book includes every one of Shakespeare’s 37 plays and all the period’s greatest theatrical names – Olivier, Gielgud, Scofield, Burton, Quayle, Redgrave, Richardson, Ashcroft and Evans – are represented in some of their most famous performances along with actors then starting their careers like Diana Rigg and Peter O’Toole.

Many of the 350 pictures, chosen mostly by McBean himself on his last visit to Stratford with his friend and biographer, Adrian Woodhouse, are previously unpublished and include over 50 of his beautiful and surprising 1950s colour images. To go with the photographs Woodhouse affectionately chronicles McBean’s roller-coaster life and career while also celebrating the craft of acting, costume and theatre design at what is now the Royal Shakespeare Company.

As RSC Artistic Director Gregory Doran notes in the book’s introduction, the wealth of theatrical trivia in the “effortlessly knowledgeable” text of Shakespeare by McBean ensures that the larger than life personalities and classical acting talents of Stratford’s post-war decades are brought vividly into focus. The reader is taken, thanks to the camera of one of the country’s greatest theatre photographers, on a remarkable journey through the changing fashions of Shakespeare productions in McBean’s time.

Adrian Woodhouse is a decorative art historian. His first book on Angus McBean came out in 1982 when he was still a Fleet Street gossip columnist and his full-length biography, Angus McBean: Facemaker, was published in 2006.

He has a particular connection to the RSC: it introduced him to McBean’s photographic genius when he first visited the RSC as a nine-year-old in 1961 – to see Geraldine McEwan and Christopher Plummer play Beatrice and Benedick in Much Ado About Nothing – and fell in love with the large framed McBean images which then used to decorate its public spaces. Five years later he was the last boy to play a Shakespearean heroine at his Gloucestershire school when he took the part of Beatrice and wore a costume hired from the RSC originally designed by Spanish artist Mario Andreu for actress Diana Wynyard in John Gielgud’s hugely successful 1949 production of Much Ado. (The costume as worn by Wynyard can be seen in Shakespeare by McBean.)

Shakespeare By McBean –
5 – 6pm, Friday 19 October at The Other Place, Stratford-upon-Avon

Join us for an exclusive conversation to celebrate the publication of the book, which will be available to buy at the event. Speakers include Adrian Woodhouse, who will be signing copies, and RSC Artistic Director, Gregory Doran.

Tickets are £5 and booking opens for Patrons, Members and Subscribers on Monday 10 September, with public booking opening on Monday 17 September.

To find out more and to book:


Full casting is announced for Angus Jackson’s RSC production of Don Quixote

Don Quixote RSC
Don Quixote RSC

Don Quixote RSC Photo Credit: Helen Maybanks

  • Full casting is announced for Angus Jackson’s RSC production of Don Quixote
  • David Threlfall and Rufus Hound return to reprise their roles as Don Quixote and Sancho Panza in James Fenton’s triumphant adaptation of Cervantes’ classic novel. They will be joined by Will Bliss, Raphael Bushay, Farrell Cox, John Cummins, Richard Dempsey, Ruth Everett, Gabriel Fleary, Richard Leeming, Nicholas Lumley, Natasha Magigi, Tom McCall, Joshua McCord, Bathsheba Piepe, Rosa Robson, Timothy Speyer and Eleanor Wyld
  • The RSC’s joyous, music-filled Don Quixote transfers to the West End for a limited season at the Garrick Theatre from 27 October 2018 to 2 February 2019 with press night on 8 November. Tickets are on sale now.

Full casting is announced today for the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Don Quixote, which originally premiered at the RSC’s Swan Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon in spring 2016. The production will play at the Garrick Theatre in London’s West End from 27 October 2018 to 2 February 2019.

After a lifetime of reading books on chivalry, one eccentric old man heads off on a rumbustious quest to become a wandering knight accompanied by his faithful and equally ill-suited servant, Sancho Panza.

Taking up a lance and sword, Don Quixote sets out on a hilarious journey across medieval Spain, defending the helpless and vanquishing the wicked. Hopelessly unprepared and increasingly losing his grip on reality, with each calamitous adventure the two hapless heroes experience, the romantic ideal of Quixote’s books seems further away than ever.

Following its sell-out run at the Swan Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon in 2016 to mark the 400th anniversary of Cervantes’ death, the Royal Shakespeare Company’s production of this legendary comic novel is told by a company of 20 actors accompanied by a band of live musicians.

Alongside the previously announced David Threlfall and Rufus Hound who return to reprise their roles as Don Quixote and Sancho Panza respectively, the full company comprises Will Bliss, Raphael Bushay, Farrell Cox, John Cummins, Richard Dempsey, Ruth Everett, Gabriel Fleary, Richard Leeming, Nicholas Lumley, Natasha Magigi, Tom McCall, Joshua McCord, Bathsheba Piepe, Rosa Robson, Timothy Speyer and Eleanor Wyld.

David Threlfall is best known for his leading role as Frank Gallagher in Channel 4’s Shameless. His other recent TV work includes Tommy Cooper: Not Like That, Like This, Black Sea, Housewife 49, What Remains and most recently he appeared in the BBC/Netflix series Troy: Fall of a City. His original appearance in the show in Stratford marked a long-awaited return to the RSC for Threlfall, whose last performance there was in his award-winning role of Smike in the iconic adaptation of Nicholas Nickleby in 1980.

Rufus Hound’s recent work includes the Rose Theatre Kingston’s War of the Roses cycle, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (Savoy Theatre), One Man Two Guvnors(NT/West End), Wind in the Willows (London Palladium Theatre), What the Butler Saw (Curve Leicester), Present Laughter (Chichester) and the upcoming new musical Dusty (UK tour).

The production is once again directed by RSC Associate Director Angus Jackson who previously worked on the critically acclaimed production Oppenheimer, which transferred to the West End in 2015 after a sell-out run at the Swan Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon. Last year, he was season director of the ROME MMXVII season of Shakespeare plays (RST and Barbican).

Don Quixote is designed by Robert Innes Hopkins, with music composed by Grant Olding, lighting by Mark Henderson and sound by Fergus O’Hare. The comedy director is Cal McCrystal and fight director is Malcolm Ranson. Movement is by Lucy Cullingford. Puppetry director and designer is Toby Olié. Puppetry co-director is Laura Cubitt.


Don Quixote
Garrick Theatre
2 Charing Cross Road

Saturday 27 October 2018 – Saturday 2 February 2019
Press night: Thursday 8 November 2018 at 7:00pm

Monday – Saturday at 7:30pm
Wednesday and Saturday at 2:00pm
No matinees between Saturday 27 October and Wednesday 7 November
First matinee will be on Saturday 10 November
A full performance schedule including seasonal adjustments for Christmas and New year can be found here:

Box Office

Telephone: 0330 333 4811 / 01789 403493
Prices from £10 (Prices from £5 for 16-25 year olds only)

 RSC to tour The Comedy of Errors to schools and theatres in Autumn 2018

Royal Shakespeare Company

As part of its commitment to provide young people with a fantastic first experience of Shakespeare, the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) in association with seven regional partner theatres will tour The Comedy of Errors to schools and theatres this autumn.  For over a decade the RSC has been taking these First Encounters productions – which are edited versions of the plays performed using Shakespeare’s original language – on the road into the heart of communities.

Directed and edited by Alex Thorpe, and primarily aimed at 7-13 year olds, the production will feature a gender-split cast of eight actors and actor-musicians.  It will open in October 2018 in Midlands schools and the Swan Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon, before embarking on a seven week national tour of schools and regional theatres.

Other locations the tour will visit include NorthamptonBlackpool (in association with The Grand Theatre, Blackpool), MiddlesbroughBishop Auckland (in association with Theatre Royal, Newcastle upon Tyne), Kent (in association with The Marlowe, Canterbury), Hull (in association with Hull Truck Theatre), York (in association with York Theatre Royal), Bradford(in association with Alhambra Theatre, Bradford), and Stoke-on-Trent (in association with New Vic Theatre, Newcastle-under-Lyme). Current tour details at the end of the release.

A key feature of the First Encounters productions is that they could not take place without the involvement and engagement of the audiences and local community they are visiting.  Young people from each of the towns that The Comedy of Errors tours to will be directly involved in the production.  Each performance will feature a team of up to twenty local young people who will perform an edited version of one of the play’s opening speeches, in which Egeon explains how he became separated from his wife and one of his twin sons.  Schools will also be invited to decorate parts of the set ahead of the RSC’s visit to create a sense of their hometown.

Alex Thorpe said: “The RSC’s First Encounter’s productions have a long and exciting history of not only giving young audiences their early experiences of Shakespeare and theatre, but also actively involving them in the making of it. This year I am delighted to be leading a company who will take things a step further. This production is being built around its audience and the places we visit. Extending and building on the play’s themes, the professional company of actors and actor-musicians will be joined by ensembles of young performers from across the UK to help tell some of the story.  Ephesus, the play’s market town setting, will feel uncannily familiar as local communities work together to complete the stage’s design.

“My relationship with the RSC’s Education Department has seen me collaborate with and learn from teachers, artists and school groups right across the country. Being brought up in the North West market town of Kendal, the opportunity to take Shakespeare’s farcical comedy to locations that feel like home is the perfect way to share one of Shakespeare’s earliest works.”

Jacqui O’Hanlon, RSC Director of Education, said: “At the heart of our First Encounters with The Comedy of Errors tour are the regional theatres and schools we are privileged to work in collaboration with to create it.  Many of us have our first encounter with Shakespeare at school, an experience which can define our attitude to live theatre and to Shakespeare for all of our lives.  Together with our partner theatres we bring the excitement and wonder of Shakespeare’s work right into the heart of schools and local communities.  We know that audiences for this work include significant numbers who are new to Shakespeare and to theatre.  And that 20% of returning audiences have had their first encounter with theatre through these tours is testament to the profound impact that partnerships between schools and theatres can have on local communities; partnerships forged out of a shared vision for education in which access to the arts plays a central part.”

This is Alex Thorpe’s RSC directing debut. He was an assistant director at the RSC between 2015-17, working on The Two Noble KinsmenVolpone and The Jew of Malta, and Associate Director between 2016-17, working on The Seven Acts of Mercy. As a director his work includes: Three Tales from Ovid by Amber Hsu (RSC), Frankie Vah by Luke Wright (Underbelly/Soho Theatre/ Paul Jellis Productions); Twelfth Night (Orange Tree Theatre); Metamorphosis (Little Angel Theatre); Lee Harvey Oswald (Finborough Theatre); The Break of Day (Manchester School of Theatre/Home, Manchester); The Suicide (Arts Ed) andRomeo and Juliet (RWCMD).  Alex graduated from the Theatre Practice degree at the Central School of Speech and Drama and on the Theatre Directing Programme at Birkbeck College.

Other members of the creative team include: Amelia Hankin (Designer), Eamonn O’Dwyer(Music), Simon Pittman (Movement), Lisa Connell (Fights) and Edie Edmundson (Puppetry Director).


The schedule below will be updated on the RSC’s website with booking details as they become available


STRATFORD-UPON-AVON/WARWICKSHIRE                    16 Oct – 20 Oct 2018

Sydenham Primary School, Leamington Spa
Tuesday 16 October, 1.30pm (schools’ performance)

Newburgh Primary School, Warwick
Wednesday 17 October, 1.30pm (schools’ performance) and 6.30pm (public performance)

The Swan Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon
Friday 19 October, 10.15am and 2pm (public performances)
Saturday 20 October, 10.15am (public performance)
Box Office: 01789 403493,

WARWICKSHIRE/BIRMINGHAM                                          22 – 27 Oct 2018

Michael Drayton Junior School, Nuneaton
Monday 22 October – performance schedule TBC

Nelson Mandela Primary School, Birmingham
Tuesday 23 October, 1.30pm (schools’ performance) and 7pm (public performance)
Wednesday 24 October, 1.30pm (schools’ performance)

The Swan Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon
Thursday 25 October, 2pm (public performances)
Friday 26 October, 10.15am (public performance/relaxed performance)
Saturday 27 October, 10.15am (public performance)
Box Office: 01789 403493,

NORTHAMPTON/WARWICKSHIRE                                     30 Oct – 2 Nov 2018

Ecton Brook Primary School, Northampton
Tuesday 30 October – performance schedule TBC

Simon De Senlis Primary School, Northampton
Wednesday 31 October – performance schedule TBC

The Swan Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon
Thursday 1 November, 2pm (public performance)
Friday 2 November, 2pm (public performance)
Box Office: 01789 403493,

BLACKPOOL                                                                         6-10 Nov 2018

Our Lady of the Assumption Catholic Primary School, Blackpool
Tuesday 6 November, 1pm (schools’ performance) and 7pm (public performance)

Hodgson High School, Poulton-le-Fylde
Wednesday 7 November, 1pm (schools’ performance)

The Grand Theatre, Blackpool
Thursday 8 November, 10am and 1.30pm (public performances)
Friday 9 November, 1.30pm and 7pm (public performances)
Saturday 10 November, 1.30pm (public performance)
Box Office: 01253 290190,
MIDDLESBROUGH/BISHOP AUCKLAND                           13-15 Nov 2018

Macmillan Academy, Middlesbrough
Tuesday 13 November1.15pm (schools’ performance), 7pm (public performance)
Wednesday 14 November, 1.15pm (schools’ performance), 7pm (public performance)

King James I Academy, Bishop Auckland
Thursday 15 November, 1.45pm (schools’ performance) and 7pm (public performance)

KENT                                                                                      20 – 23 Nov 2018

Canterbury Academy
Wednesday 21 November – performance schedule TBC

King Ethelbert School, Birchington
Thursday 22 November, 1.30pm (schools’ performance), 7pm (public performance)

Towers School and Sixth Form Centre, Ashford
Friday 23 November – performance schedule TBC

HULL AND YORK                                                                  27-30 Nov 2018

St Mary’s College, Hull
Tuesday 27 November, 1.45pm (schools’ performance), 7pm (public performance)

York High School, York
Wednesday 28 November, 11.45am (schools’ performance), 7pm (public performance)

York Theatre Royal
Thursday 29 November, 1pm (schools’ performance), 7.30pm (public performance)
Friday 30 November, 10.30am (schools’ performance), 7.30pm (public performance)
Box Office: 01904 623568,

BRADFORD/STAFFORDSHIRE                                            3 – 7 Dec 2018

Bradford College, Bradford
Monday 3 December, 1.30pm (schools’ performance), 6.30pm (public performance)

Springhead Primary School, Stoke on Trent
Wednesday 5 December – 10.30am2pm (schools’ performances)
Thursday 6 December – 2pm (schools’ performance), 7pm (public performance)
Friday 7 December – 10.30am2pm (schools’ performances)

Casting announced for The RSC’s updated staging of David Edgar’s seminal play Maydays

Royal Shakespeare Company

Casting for the RSC’s timely new staging of David Edgar’s powerful play Maydays is announced today.  First staged by the RSC at the Barbican Theatre in 1983, the new production will be performed as part of the Autumn Mischief Festival in The Other Place in Stratford-upon-Avon from 27 September to 20 October 2018.

The cast is:  Geoffrey Beevers (Trelawney/Pugachev), Gillian Bevan (Mrs Glass/Weiner), Richard Cant (Jeremy), Sophie Khan Levy (Clara/Judy), Chris Nayak (Phil/Korolenko), Lily Nichol (Amanda/Erica), Mark Quartley (Martin), Christopher Simpson (James Grain/Paloczi), Liyah Summers (Bryony/Tanya) and Jay Taylor as Lermontov.

Edgar’s award-winning and epic play – revived in the 50th anniversary year of Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy’s assassination, the student-worker uprising in Paris and the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia – tells the story of the idealistic young who came of age in 1968 and were drawn into revolutionary politics.

For some, this commitment defined the rest of their lives. For others, the experience was one of disillusion and betrayal. A story of defection from east to west as well as from left to right, Maydays tells the interlocking stories of a vicar’s son turned student radical, a young Communist who becomes a Conservative ideologue, a single mother and political activist, and a Soviet army officer who ends up as a dissident.

Fiercely topical when first premiered, Maydays is now relevant again, in a new age of radical leftism and global politics, providing startling parallels to the political revolution of the Millennial Generation.

The production is directed by Owen Horsley who was last at the RSC in 2017 directing Salome in the Swan Theatre. Prior to that, he worked as Gregory Doran’s Associate Director on the King and Country cycle of Shakespeare’s Henry IV and Henry V which toured to New York, China and Hong Kong. He also directed the Chinese version of Henry V in Shanghai as part of the RSC’s Chinese Folio Translation project.

Joining Owen on the creative team are: designer Simon Anthony Wells, lighting designer Claire Gerrens, sound designer Steven Atkinson and movement by Polly Bennett.

There will be three performances of David Edgar’s one-person solo show Trying It On at The Other Place on 18, 19 and 20 October 2018.   Aged 20 in 1968, Edgar was caught up in the student revolt of the time, which defined his politics and gave focus to his playwriting. In Trying It On he confronts and is confronted by his 70-year-old self today. Do they still share the same beliefs? Has the world changed, or has he? Why did his generation – supposedly so radical in its youth – vote Brexit? Has he sold in or sold out?

The text for Trying It On has been developed through interviews conducted by the playwright with activists, past and present, and marks David’s professional debut as a performer after 50 years of writing. The production is directed by Christopher Haydon and produced by China Plate as part of their new partnership with Warwick Arts Centre. It premiered at the Warwick Arts Centre in June 2018 before transferring to the Birmingham Rep, and then – following its three-day run at The Other Place – to the Royal Court in London in October. On two days at Stratford it will be possible to see Trying it On in the afternoon and Maydays in the evening.

On Saturday 6 October at 5.45pm at The Other Place, David Edgar will take part in a special panel discussion called Theatre and Political Change.  The discussion will explore ways in which theatre and the arts can reflect and effect change.  Other speakers will be announced soon.

In his 70th birthday year Edgar sees a number of revivals of his work. As well as Maydays and Trying It On, there are revivals of his adaptations of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, and his new adaptation of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, which returns to the Royal Shakespeare Theatre this December.

David Edgar’s plays have been presented by the National Theatre (including The Shape of the TableAlbert Speer and Playing with Fire), the Royal Shakespeare Company (including DestinyNicholas Nickleby, Pentecost, The Prisoner’s DilemmaWritten on the Heart and A Christmas Carol) and The Birmingham Repertory Theatre (including Mary Barnes and Arthur & George).

He is the RSC’s most produced living playwright.

Further information about the RSC’s current Mischief Festival of new work at The Other Place


The RSC’s Don Quixote transfers to the West End for a limited season at the Garrick Theatre from 27 October 2018 to 2 February 2019

Don Quixote RSC
Don Quixote RSC

Don Quixote RSC © Helen Maybanks

  • The RSC’s joyous, music-filled Don Quixote transfers to the West End for a limited season at the Garrick Theatre from 27 October 2018 to 2 February 2019 with press night on 8 November
  • David Threlfall and Rufus Hound return to reprise their roles as Don Quixote and Sancho Panza in James Fenton’s triumphant adaptation of Cervantes’ classic novel
  • Tickets go on sale to the general public on Monday 25 June at 10am

It is announced today that the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Don Quixote, which originally premiered at the RSC’s Swan Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon in spring 2016, will transfer to the Garrick Theatre in London’s West End from 27 October 2018 to 2 February 2019.

The award-winning poet, journalist and literary critic James Fenton has adapted Miguel de Cervantes’ iconic novel which tells the famous, farcical story of a self-fashioned travelling knight accompanied by his faithful squire.

A labyrinthine world of rogues, merchants, shepherds, galley-slaves and windmills combine to confront the pair with a world of rampant, absurd adventures in this brilliantly energised adaptation of the comic epic.

RSC Artistic Director Gregory Doran said: “We are delighted that Angus Jackson’s joyful production of Don Quixote is going to be shared with West End audiences this autumn, following my production of Imperium playing at the Gielgud Theatre and our regular winter season of Shakespeare plays at the Barbican.  

Don Quixote’s journey with his faithful sidekick is one of the world’s most famous stories, and James Fenton’s glorious adaptation brings Cervantes’ novel wonderfully to life.  

First staged in Stratford-upon-Avon to mark the 400th anniversary of Cervantes’ death, David Threlfall will reprise his mesmerising performance in the title role, with Rufus Hound once again playing his long-suffering companion Sancho Panza. 

London audiences will get the chance to see them recreate their chemistry on stage and I encourage everyone to discover this hilarious, profound and lyrical adaptation of a classic tale.”

Co-producer and theatre owner Nica Burns said: “Having seen this glorious production which premiered at the Swan Theatre in 2016, we are thrilled to be collaborating with the RSC to share this joyous and moving evening with a wider audience at its new home at the Garrick Theatre.”

Don Quixote will again be played by David Threlfall, best known for his leading role as Frank Gallagher in Channel 4’s Shameless. His other recent TV work includes Tommy Cooper: Not Like That, Like This, Black Sea, Housewife 49, What Remains and most recently he appeared in the BBC/Netflix series Troy: Fall of a City. His original appearance in the show in Stratford marked a long-awaited return to the RSC for Threlfall, whose last performance there was in his award-winning role of Smike in the iconic adaptation of Nicholas Nickleby in 1980.

Actor and comedian Rufus Hound will return to play Quixote’s squire, Sancho Panza. Hound’s recent work includes the Rose Theatre Kingston’s War of the Roses cycle, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (Savoy Theatre), One Man Two Guvnors (NT/West End), Wind in the Willows(London Palladium Theatre), What the Butler Saw (Curve Leicester), Present Laughter (Chichester) and the upcoming new musical Dusty(UK tour).

After a lifetime of reading books on chivalry, Don Quixote decides to embark on a quest of his own. Taking up a lance and sword, he sets out to become a wandering knight, defending the helpless and vanquishing the wicked. Hopelessly unprepared and increasingly losing his grip on reality, he travels across Spain accompanied by his faithful and equally ill-suited squire, Sancho Panza.

The production is once again directed by RSC Associate Director Angus Jackson who previously worked on the critically acclaimed production Oppenheimer, which transferred to the West End in 2015 after a sell-out run at the Swan Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon. Last year, he was season director of the ROME MMXVII season of Shakespeare plays (RST and Barbican).

Don Quixote is designed by Robert Innes Hopkins, with music composed by Grant Olding, lighting by Mark Henderson and sound byFergus O’Hare. The fight director is Malcolm Ranson. Movement is by Lucy Cullingford.

Don Quixote
Garrick Theatre
2 Charing Cross Road

Saturday 27 October 2018 – Saturday 2 February 2019
Press night: Thursday 8 November 2018

Monday – Saturday at 7:30pm
Wednesday and Saturday at 2:00pm
No matinees between Saturday 27 October and Wednesday 7 November
First matinee will be on Saturday 10 November

Box Office

Website: /
Telephone: 0330 333 4811 / 01789 403493
Prices from £10 (Prices from £5 for 16-25 year olds only)

Tickets go on sale to the general public on Monday 25 June at 10am