Category Archives: Royal Shakespeare Company

Στα σεξπιρικά του λημέρια

Για πρώτη φορά ύστερα από 23 ολόκληρα χρόνια ο Τζέρεμι Αϊρονς επιστρέφει στο Royal Shakespeare Company για να πρωταγωνιστήσει στο καινούργιο έργο «The Gods Weep» του Ντένις Κέλι. Εργο σύγχρονου πολιτικού προβληματισμού, «πραγματεύεται» εξηγεί η νεαρή, Σουηδή σκηνοθέτις Μαρία Αμπεργκ, «ό,τι συμβαίνει όταν η συλλογική απληστία και η κρατική ασφάλεια επικαλύπτονται με τρομακτικό τρόπο». Κεντρικός ήρωας ο Κολμ, ο ρόλος που έπεισε δηλαδή τον Αϊρονς να επιστρέψει στο RSC. Οι τελευταίες του εμφανίσεις εκεί ήταν την περίοδο 1986-87, όταν έπαιξε τον Λεόντιο στο «Χειμωνιάτικο Παραμύθι» και τον «Ριχάρδο ΙΙ» στην ομώνυμη τραγωδία του Σέξπιρ. Η τελευταία του θεατρική εμφάνιση ήταν, ωστόσο, μόλις πέρυσι στο Μπροντγουέι, όπου πρωταγωνιστούσε στο έργο «Ιμπρεσιονισμός» του Μαρκ Τζέικομπς.[Ν.ΧΑΤΖ.Ελευθεροτυπία, Δευτέρα 11 Ιανουαρίου 2010]

The Gods Weep

The Gods Weep at the Hampstead Theatre

A new play by Dennis Kelly at Hampstead Theatre.

  • The Gods Weep by Dennis Kelly.

Colm has taken a lifetime to build his empire. With brutal rigour he has shaped the world around him in his own image. But when he decides to divide power between his subordinates, the world he has created rapidly begins to fracture. Having unleashed a bloody power struggle Colm is forced to confront the very human cost of his actions as around him the body count begins to rise. Dennis Kelly’s savage new play explores what happens when corporate greed and state security frighteningly overlap.

Dennis Kelly is an acclaimed and multi award-winning playwright whose recent work includes Orphans, DNA, Love and Money and Osama the Hero which premiered at Hampstead Theatre. He is currently under commission by the RSC to write the book for a new musical version of Roald Dahl’s Matilda to be staged in late 2010. Maria Aberg directs following her celebrated RSC production of Roy Williams’ Days of Significance.

  • The Gods Weep runs at Hampstead Theatre, London from 12 March to 3 April 2010.

Theatre: what not to miss in 2009

Polly Stenham’s Tusk Tusk opens in London in March. Photograph: Sarah Lee/Guardian

Polly Stenham

Spring Awakening

This rock-musical version of Frank Wedekind’s play about teenage sexual angst in 19th-century Germany was a big hit in New York. Now the Atlantic Theater Company production, directed by Michael Mayer and choroegraphed by Bill T Jones, comes to London with a young British cast. Let’s hope it doesn’t shy away from the original play’s controversial scene of communal masturbation.

• Lyric Theatre, Hammersmith (0871 221 1729), 23 Jan-28 Feb

The Hounding of David Oluwale

The stage version of an astonishing book by Kester Aspden, described as «a kind of In Cold Blood set in Leeds». It tells the story of the eponymous hero, whose battered body was found in the river Aire in 1969, and who proved to have been the victim of systematic police brutality. Aspden’s book has been adapted for Eclipse Theatre by Oladipo Agboluaje and is directed by Dawn Walton. Its staging promises to reopen old wounds and ancient scandals.

• West Yorkshire Playhouse, Leeds (0113 213 7700), 31 Jan-21 Feb, then touring.

Othello

This looks like being the key Shakespeare play of 2009 with two prominent productions on offer. The first of the year, directed by Kathryn Hunter for the RSC, stars the tremendous Patrice Naiambana, who hugely impressed in the Shakespeare history cycle. The second has Shakespeare debutant Lenny Henry as the Moor, in a Northern Broadsides production directed by Barrie Rutter. Since both go on extensive spring tours, they should offer a fascinating chance to contrast and compare.

• RSC production is at the Arts Centre, Warwick (024 7652 4524) from 30 Jan – 7 Feb, then touring. Northern Broadsides’ production opens at West Yorkshire Playhouse, Leeds (0113 213 7700) from 14 Feb-14 March, then touring.

England People Very Nice

Richard Bean addressed the state of the nation in The English Game in 2008. Now he tackles the subject of immigration, from the 17th century to today. In this epic comedy he shows how the French Huguenots, the Irish, the Jews and the Bangladeshis have successively entered the chaotic world of Bethnal Green in east London. Nicholas Hynter, opening a new NT Travelex £10 season, directs a large cast headed by Olivia Colman and Sacha Darwan.

• Olivier Theatre, London (020-7452 3000), 4 Feb-30 April.

Madame de Sade

Judi Dench and Rosamund Pike head an all-star cast, including Frances Barber and Deborah Findlay, for the third play in the Donmar’s sell-out West End season. The play itself, written by Yukio Mishima and translated by Donald Keene, is set in Paris on the eve of revolution and brings to life the story of the Marquis de Sade, through the experience of six remarkable women. Given that director Michael Grandage can seemingly walk on water at the moment, this should be another success.

• Wyndham’s Theatre, London (0844 482 5120), 13 March-23 May.

Tusk Tusk

Polly Stenham won golden opinions, and a shelf-full of awards, for her first play, That Face, in 2007. But the second play is always the real test. Again she turns her attention to a dysfunctional family, starting with three children playing hide and seek and waiting for a mobile phone to come to life. But whose call are they waiting for, and why are they home alone? The answers, one hopes, will be revealed by Jeremy Herrin’s production designed by Robert Innes Hopkins.

• Royal Court Theatre Upstairs, London (020 7565 5000), 28 March-2 May.

Waiting For Godot

Reviled in 1955 for its obscurity, Beckett’s play has now achieved the status of a pop-classic: «the laughter-riot of two continents», it was once dubbed in a New York revival. It now comes to us with Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart as the two odorous old tramps waiting for the non-arriving Godot. Since both actors are well schooled in the tradition of north-country, music-hall comedy, they should have no difficulty with Beckett’s vaudevillian humour. Sean Mathias directs.

• Theatre Royal Haymarket, London (0845 481 1870), 30 April-28 June.

Haunted

Famed as a novelist, Edna O’Brien is certainly underrated as a playwright. Here, in this brand new play, she returns to her familiar themes of love and betrayal. The story revolves around a middle-aged man, his wife and his passion for a young girl. Brenda Blethyn, who won glowing reviews for her performance in The Glass Menagerie both in Manchester and on tour, stars in this production, and the ever-reliable Braham Murray directs.

• Royal Exchange, Manchester (0161 833 9833), 13 May-13 June.

Julius Caesar

Lucy Bailey, with her productions of Titus Andronicus and Timon of Athens at the Bankside Globe in London, has emerged as one of the best directors of Shakespeare’s more difficult plays. Although this Roman tragedy is always seen as a gilt-edged classic, it rarely lives up to expectations. Can Bailey take the curse of this broken-backed epic? One hopes so, especially as she will be working with the RSC’s newly created three-year ensemble.

• Courtyard, Stratford-upon-Avon (0844 800 1110), 15 May-2 Oct.

Everybody Loves a Winner

Bingo was once seen as theatre’s deadly enemy. Now it takes over the Royal Exchange, with the in-the-round auditorium turned into a bingo parlour, and some of the audience taking part in the action. The play itself, which kicks off the 2009 Manchester International Festival, will be devised by the director, Neil Bartlett, and the cast in rehearsal, so who knows what to expect? An entertaining shambles, or a triumphant full house in which some spectators may actually turn a profit?

• Royal Exchange, Manchester (0161 833 9833), 1 July-1 Aug.

Αμλετ με αληθινό κρανίο

Αμλετ με αληθινό κρανίο

Για πρώτη φορά στα χρονικά των παραστάσεων του Άμλετ, ο ηθοποιός Ντέιβιντ Τέναντ, που ερμηνεύει το σαιξπηρικό ήρωα, κρατάει ένα αληθινό κρανίο. Είναι το κρανίο του πιανίστα Αντρέ Τσαϊκόφσκι, ο οποίος το προσέφερε με σημείωμα πριν από τον θάνατό του στη Ρόγιαλ Σαίξπηρ Κόμπανι για «χρήση σε θεατρική παράσταση». Έως τώρα, όμως, χρησιμοποιούνταν μόνο στις πρόβες, γιατί κανένας ηθοποιός δεν ένιωθε άνετα να το κρατάει μπροστά σε κοινό.

Pianist’s skull plays the jester

David Tennant as Hamlet at the RSC

David Tennat as Hamlet. Photograph: Tristram Kenton

‘Alas, poor Yorick,’ laments Hamlet, holding up the skull of the King’s late jester. The gravedigger scene in the hit production of Hamlet starring David Tennant can claim unprecedented realism. For each night Tennant is holding aloft a genuine skull.

The extra cast member is André Tchaikowsky, a Polish concert pianist and composer who, after his death from cancer in 1982, bequeathed his skull to the Royal Shakespeare Company in the hope of achieving his acting dream. The skull sat in a box in the props department, virtually untouched for 25 years, until director Greg Doran retrieved it for its stage debut.

Tchaikowsky’s posthumous performance, which it is safe to assume makes up in consistency what it lacks in expressiveness, was kept secret when the show opened in Stratford-upon-Avon, where there was already massive hype around Doctor Who star Tennant.

Tchaikowsky emigrated from Poland to Oxford in 1939, when he was four, and was a frequent visitor to Stratford. He died at the age of 46 and left a will requesting that his organs be used for medical purposes, ‘with the exception of my skull, which shall be offered by the institution receiving my body to the Royal Shakespeare Company for use in theatrical performance’.

The Home Office decided the bequest was not illegal and the RSC could accept the gift. The company put the skull outdoors for a few months so the sunlight would dry it out completely. Actor Mark Rylance spent a month rehearsing with the skull when he played Hamlet in 1989, but ‘eventually, squeamishness about the rough handling of real human remains seems to have triumphed’.

Seventeen years later, however, Doran decided to take the plunge. ‘It was sort of a little shock tactic… though, of course, to some extent that wears off and it’s just André, in his box,’ he said.

Shakespeare suffers slings and arrows of Sats fortune

David Tennant as Hamlet at the RSC, an experience becoming rarer for pupils. Photograph: Tristram Kenton

David Tennant as Hamlet

William Shakespeare is losing favour in schools, with half of teachers cancelling courses with the Royal Shakespeare Company since Sats for 14-year-olds in English and maths were scrapped.

The RSC said up to 50% of teachers have dropped out of the training courses it runs to aid the teaching of Shakespeare to teenagers since ministers abolished the national curriculum tests, which included a section on the playwright, last month.

Jacqui O’Hanlon, the RSC’s director of education, said: «School managers will not release teachers for a day’s training because Shakespeare is no longer seen as a priority. If that’s the message being given to teachers and the message pervading schools, what impact is that going to have on the wider entitlement young people have to engage with Shakespeare?»

The worst-case scenario would see students exposed to just one play – probably Romeo and Juliet – during their whole secondary career, she warned. In a memo to the Commons schools committee, the RSC said 40 to 50% of teachers booked on their training courses had cancelled.

Barry Sheerman MP, the committee chairman who raised the issue at a hearing this week, said: «It’s quite chilling if schools don’t want students to go and see Shakespeare if it’s not examined.» Government edicts on the curriculum were reminiscent of «Soviet Russia» and teachers were «too frightened» to complain in case they weren’t promoted, he said.

«Most teachers are terrified to go to bed at night without reading the latest missive. The government controls the curriculum even if it’s by manipulation, not direction.»

The schools minister, Jim Knight, promised to look into the shunning of Shakespeare. «If something is part of a statutory test it focuses minds and drives behaviour,» he told the committee on Monday. «I’m disappointed schools have taken this line and we need to do more research to find out why.» Knight insisted that schools had flexibility over the curriculum they taught.

But he said a generation of teachers were not used to having the extra flexibility introduced into the secondary curriculum this year and needed to learn from older teachers. He said the government was unashamed about the priority it has placed on English and maths.

Chris Keates, general secretary of the NASUWT teaching union, said schools felt under more pressure since key stage three tests were scrapped. «The government expected to release pressure on schools but we are hearing from teachers that it is just as much or intensifying.»