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Royal Shakespeare Company 2014 Spring/Summer Season

Home > Birmingham > Performing Arts | Comedy | Theatre
by Alison Brinkworth (subscribe)
Freelance journalist in Birmingham with a passion for the dynamic theatre, art, food and fashion scene in Britain's 'Second City'.
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Roaring Girls season stars alongside history plays
Wild Women and Men At War In New Season

The Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) focuses heavily on strong women for its Spring/Summer season in Stratford upon Avon and London.

RSC White Devil
White Devil is part of the new RSC season

The Roaring Girls season features three rarely performed Jacobean plays by contemporaries of William Shakespeare at The Swan Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon - The Roaring Girl, Arden of Faversham and The White Devil.

In addition, there will be a limited run of award-winning production The Rape of Lucrece as part of The Roaring Girls season.

Meanwhile, Shakespeare's history plays continue with Henry IV Parts I and II, which star actor Antony Sher as the knight Falstaff in the Royal Shakespeare Theatre at Stratford upon Avon. The production will then go on tour before appearing at London's Barbican Theatre.

These regal plays are replaced by The Two Gentlemen of Verona at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre from July.

Browse the sections below for more details on each of the plays.

The Roaring Girls Season

The Swan Theatre returns to its original purpose as a home for the plays of Shakespeare's contemporaries for this latest series of plays that put female actresses firmly at centre stage.

Described as plays that have "some of the great parts written for and about women", the season is led by the RSC's deputy artistic director Erica Whyman and a host of female directors.

The Roaring Girl
Swan Theatre, Stratford - April 9 - September 30

RSC Roaring Girl
The Roaring Girl has a strong female lead as part of the new season at The Swan Theatre

The Roaring Girl, written by Thomas Middleton and Thomas Dekker, is a comedy that has been transformed into a modern setting despite being written around 1607. This play has only ever been performed once before by the RSC and gained acclaim when Helen Mirren played the title role back in 1983.

The story revolves around the feisty lead character Moll Cutpurse, an enigmatic, cross-dressing female who is more than a match for any man and based on the real-life Mary Frith. The title comes from the term "roaring boy", which meant a "carousing young man with exceptional fighting skills".

Directed by Jo Davies, who was behind Opera North's recent production of Carousel, it is set in a greedy, lustful London where lovestruck Sebastian enlists worldly-wise Moll to help him marry the woman he loves.

Tickets cost from 14 from the RSC website.

There are 5 tickets available for people aged 16 to 25.

The Arden of Faversham
Swan Theatre, Stratford - April 30 - October 2


The Arden of Faversham features the largest role for a woman in all Elizabethan dramas - that of Alice Arden. Taking on this big role is Sharon Small, making her RSC debut. She is better known for starring in television dramas Mistresses and The Inspector Lynley Mysteries.

Despite being a comedy it is also a dark tale of murder as we see Alice plot the killing of her husband with her lover.

Arden
Sharon Small takes on the female lead role in Arden of Faversham

This play, directed by Polly Findlay, was published anonymously in 1592 but Thomas Kyd, Christopher Marlowe and Shakespeare have all been linked to this play.

Tickets cost from 14 from the RSC website.

There are 5 tickets available for people aged 16 to 25.

White Devil
Swan Theatre - July 30 - October 4


A bloodthirsty tale of murder and revenge, this play by John Webster has been described as "compellingly dangerous and fascinating".

We see Duke Bracciano make an indecent proposal to the object of his affection, Vittoria. It's an offer she can't refuse, but as she plots to fool her husband, her adulteress actions get out of hand and lead to passion and retribution with a bloody conclusion.

Director Maria Aberg has warned she is taking a bold approach with this production.

Roaring
Female directors at the heart of the Roaring Girls season of plays at the RSC

Tickets cost from 14 from the RSC website.

There are 5 tickets available for people aged 16 to 25.

The Rape of Lucrece
Swan Theatre - June 23 - July 4


This award-winning politically-charged epic poem stars internationally-acclaimed performer and singer Camille O'Sullivan.

It is an adaptation of Shakespeare's tragic poem, The Rape of Lucrece, a provocative story of lust, rape and politics told through song and storytelling.

O'Sullivan inhabits the souls of both Tarquin and Lucrece and narrates the fate of each while music is played live by Feargal Murray.

Lucrece
Award-winning production of the Rape of Lucrece

It has been adapted for the stage by Elizabeth Freestone, Feargal Murray and Camille O'Sullivan. Freestone also directs.

Tickets cost from 14 from the RSC website.

There are 5 tickets available for people aged 16 to 25.

Henry IV Parts I and II Plays

Henry IV Part I
Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford - March 18 - September 6
Newcastle Theatre Royal - September 25 - October 4
Barbican Theatre, London - November 29 January 24, 2015


Henry IV Part II
Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford - March 28 - September 6
Newcastle Theatre Royal - September 26 - October 4
Barbican Theatre, London - November 29 January 24, 2015


Antony Sher is the big name star attracting attention as he returns to the RSC to play Falstaff in the two productions of Henry IV Parts I and II.

Gregory Doran is behind these two plays, which follow his successful production last year of Richard II with David Tennant. It's all part of Doran's plan to tackle the entire First Folio of 36 plays over six years.

RSC Antony Sher
Antony Sher stars in Henry IV Parts I and II

Jasper Britton takes on the title role of Henry IV, while Alex Hassell plays his son Prince Hal.

We start in Part I with King Henry preparing for war to defend his crown while his reckless son spends all his time drinking and frequenting brothels with his friend Sir John Falstaff.

War forces Prince Hal to confront his regal responsibilities and his friendship with Falstaff as his father's health deteriorates in Part II of this epic story. Can Hal prove to his father that he is a worthy heir to the throne?

Tickets cost from 14 from the RSC website.

There are 5 tickets available for people aged 16 to 25.

The Two Gentlemen of Verona

The Two Gentlemen of Verona
Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford - July 12 - September 4

This romantic comedy makes a return to the Royal Shakespeare Theatre stage after 45 years.

Heartfelt, funny and romantic, this play follows friends Valentine and Proteus as they travel to Milan but end up falling for the same woman.

Love never runs smoothly, at least not with Shakespeare, and the romantic entanglements put pressure on the friendship as they become rivals.

RSC, what plays can I see in Stratford, Royal Shakespeare Theatre UK
The RSC new season offers a variety of plays

With wild chases through the woods, mistaken identity and fierce outlaws in the mix, there will be plenty of entertainment in this light-hearted romantic comedy.

Simon Godwin makes his RSC debut to direct Shakespeare's exuberant comedy.

Tickets cost from 14 from the RSC website.

There are 5 tickets available for people aged 16 to 25.
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Why? World class plays by the RSC
When: From April to October 2014
Phone: 0844 800 1110
Where: Stratford upon Avon, also Newcastle and London
Cost: From 14. 5 ticket offer for 16-25s
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