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Royal Shakespeare Company - The Complete Works

For one glorious year of corsets and codpieces, ending in April 2007, theatre companies from all over the world are coming to Stratford to stage The Complete Works of Shakespeare, his plays , his major sonnets and poems...

Published on April 24th 2006.

Royal Shakespeare Company - The Complete Works

Launch Weekend and Open Day Stratford–Upon–Avon

For one glorious year of corsets and codpieces, ending in April 2007, theatre companies from all over the world are coming to Stratford to stage The Complete Works of Shakespeare, his plays , his major sonnets and poems.

23 RSC shows , 17 international productions, 14 UK based visiting companies and 54 events will be staged throughout this show-stopping year. Hold the calendar and book your sabbatical now.

These 12 months offer the most spectacular outpouring of Shakespeare in the board-treading history of the RSC . Stratford has seen nothing like this since David Garrick held the first Shakespeare Festival in September 1769. It had two major claims to fame - It was an unmitigated disaster and in three days, not one word of Shakespeare was pronounced. Blasphemous. Here’s hoping history doesn’t repeat itself.

The year has already raised its curtains to Romeo and Juliet in the Main House directed by Nancy Meckler. I was particularly impressed by Rupert Evans and Morven Christie as the young and passionately entwined pair of “star crossed lovers.“ Probably the best known play in the whole canon, it has been interpreted interestingly by Meckler who last year directed the outstanding, “The Comedy of Errors.“

At the same time Greg Doran’s brilliant “Antony and Cleopatra,“ has been transfixing audiences at The Swan. Patrick Stewart after a long absence from what many feel is his spiritual home, returns to play a marvellous Antony - mesmeric, powerful, pathetic and tragic by turn.

Equally skilled is Harriet Walter, a magnificent Cleopatra, sexy, seductive, riveting and totally convincing in arguably Shakespeare’s most dominant female role. If you see nothing else at the theatre this year - see this. She and Mr Stewart take one’s breath away.

Ken Bones as Enobarbus reciting some of the best poetry in the complete works simply adds to the perfection of this most poetic of plays . I left the theatre with an admiration for the whole team which resonated days later.

Greg Doran has directed a masterpiece. He has conducted this talented cast in a sublimely creative way. All in all - breathtaking.

But because this was a launch weekend, Shakespeare’s birthday, there were all manner of things going on to whet the appetite. Just a few highlights:

  • Janet Suzman and Harriet Walter on “Playing Cleopatra”
  • The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, Greg Doran, Kate McCluskie and James Naughtie talking about “Shakespeare and the creative imagination“
  • Brian and Alan Cox discussing animatedly “Relative Values”
  • An audience with Judi Dench

And so so much more. The RSC contribution to our art scene is vast. The fact that Michael Boyd and Deborah Shaw have produced this mammoth undertaking together is quite awesome.

If Stratford ever crosses your thoughts, these 12 months are the time to turn those thoughts into action. The range and accomplishment of so many people deserves support, encouragement and heartfelt admiration.

Richard Burbage
Email Me Now! April 2006

Royal Shakespeare Company till April 2007 To Book Tickets and see the full itinerary www.rsc.org.uk 0870 609 1110

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