Highlights from the Royal Shakespeare Company, Stratford-upon-Avon

Highlights from the Royal Shakespeare Company, Stratford-upon-Avon

throughout January and February


2016 has been a year of celebrations in Stratford-upon-Avon, marking the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s death. The RSC’s programme linking into 2017 sets Shakespeare in context, with a selection of his own works performed alongside plays by his contemporaries and today’s writers…

until Saturday 21 January
The Tempest by William Shakespeare at Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon
Simon Russell Beale returns to the RSC after 20 years to play Prospero in this production directed by Artistic Director Gregory Doran.
On a distant island, a man has been stranded, robbed of his position, power and wealth. But this is no ordinary man and this no ordinary island. Prospero is a magician, able to control the elements and bend nature to his will. When a sail appears on the horizon, he creates a storm to wreck the ship that carries his enemies. When they are washed up on the shore, they find themselves lost on a fantastical island where nothing is as it seems.
In a partnership with Intel, this production uses the latest technologies to create a bold reimagining of Shakespeare’s magical play. It provides a perfect introduction to Shakespeare for young theatre-goers and their families.

until Tuesday 7 February
The Two Noble Kinsmen by John Fletcher and William Shakespeare at Swan Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon
A Midsummer Night’s Dream meets Fight Club in this rarely performed tragicomedy. Attributed to Fletcher and Shakespeare, The Two Noble Kinsmen is based on Chaucer’s The Knight’s Tale.
Two best friends, knights at arms, are captured in battle and imprisoned. From their window, they see a beautiful woman and both fall instantly in love with her, turning from friendship to rivalry in the space of a minute. One is released and travels in the woods of Athens, searching for a way to be near his beloved. The jailer’s daughter then frees the other and follows him into the forest herself. The stage is then set for absurd adventures and confusions in this study of the intoxication of love.

until Friday 10 February
The Seven Acts of Mercy by Anders Lustgarten at Swan Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon
Playing out across a gap of 400 years, Lustgarten’s visceral new play confronts the dangerous necessity of compassion in a world where it is in short supply.
Naples, 1606: inside an unfinished church, a painting is emerging from the darkness. The Seven Acts of Mercy is Caravaggio’s masterpiece and his first painting since he killed a man and fled Rome. As the artist works, he is fuelled by anger, self-loathing and his driving need to create a work that speaks of compassion in a violent world.
Bootle, the present day: a retired dock worker teaches his grandson, as around them a community is disintegrating. With all that he has left – a book of great works of art – he tries to open the boy’s eyes to the tragedy and beauty of the life he faces, and the boy reciprocates in the only way he knows.

until Sunday 11 February
The Rover by Aphra Behn at Swan Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon
Aphra Behn was England’s first female professional playwright and a strong voice in early feminism. Loveday Ingram returns to the RSC to direct this masterpiece of Restoration comedy.
Three wandering cavaliers, exiled from Cromwell’s England, meet up in a Spanish colony in South America as the carnival begins. Meanwhile, three wealthy sisters escape their overbearing brother and disappear into the city, in search of love and freedom. As night falls in this vibrant, frenzied world and the wine flows, chaos ensues. 

from Thursday 23 February
Snow in Midsummer by Frances Ya-Chu Cowhig at Swan Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon
This is a contemporary re-imagining of one of the most famous classical Chinese dramas, by Guan Hanqing. Playwright Frances Ya-Chu Cowhig and director Justin Audibert breathe new life into an ancient story, haunted by centuries of retelling.
Executed for a murder she did not commit, young widow Dou Yi vows that if she is innocent, snow will fall in midsummer and a catastrophic drought will strike. Three years later, a businesswoman visits the parched, locust-plagued town to take over an ailing factory. When her young daughter is tormented by an angry ghost, the new factory owner must expose the injustices Dou Yi suffered before the curse destroys every living thing.
Snow in Midsummer is the first play in the RSC's Chinese Translations Project, a cultural exchange bringing Chinese classics to a modern western audience. This production continues until 25 March.

throughout December to February
The Play’s the Thing exhibition in the Swan Café, Swan Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon
This exhibition takes you on a journey through 100 years of theatre-making in the town. It explores the ideas, inspiration and craft within the RSC’s work and goes behind the scenes to show how Shakespeare’s plays are brought to life on stage. 
Objects on display from the RSC’s archive and collection include rarely seen props, costumes and original set designs. There are also hands-on activities and digital interactive exhibits to spark children’s imaginations – such as the chance to stand on a virtual stage, play with sound effects and try on famous costumes. The exhibition is open every day; admission charges apply. 

RSC at Royal Shakespeare Theatre and Swan Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon:
01789 403493 (box office) / CV37 6BB / rsc.org.uk

William Gear Exhibition at Fosse Gallery, Stow-on-the-Wold

William Gear Exhibition at Fosse Gallery, Stow-on-the-Wold