Royal Shakespeare Company has announced its 2014 winter season and Shakespeare anniversary celebrations today. Check out details below!

As part of a season marking the centenary of the First World War, Christopher Luscombe returns to the Royal Shakespeare Company to direct a single company of actors in a fresh pairing of two of Shakespeare's most sparkling comedies, set in the shadow of war.

Love's Labour's Lost and Love's Labour's Won (usually known as Much Ado About Nothing) will play in repertoire in the Royal Shakespeare Theatre (RST) from October. Both productions will share a setting based on a splendid country house just before and just after the War, designed by Simon Higlett. Lighting design will be by Oliver Fenwick and music by Nigel Hess.

Returning to the RSC are Edward Bennett and Michelle Terry who will play the lovers in both productions: Berowne and Benedick and Rosaline and Beatrice in Love's Labour's Lost and Love's Labour's Won respectively. Edward was last at the RSC in Gregory Doran's productions of Love's Labour's Lost, A Midsummer Night's Dream and Hamlet; he has more recently been in the touring production of One Man, Two Guvnors. Olivier award-winning actress Michelle was part of the RSC Complete Works productions in 2006 of Pericles and The Winter's Tale. Other theatre credits include All's Well That Ends Well and The Comedy of Errors (National Theatre). Michelle won the award for Best Actress in a Supporting role at the 2011 Olivier Awards for her portrayal of Sylvia in The Royal Court production of Tribes.

In Love's Labour's Lost, the mischievous Rosaline tests Berowne's high-minded resolve in the summer of 1914. At the end of the play the merriment is curtailed as the lovers agree to submit to a period apart, unaware the world around them is about to be transformed by a war to end all wars. Love's Labour's Won begins four years later in the autumn of 1918 with a world-weary Benedick and Claudio returning from the trenches to a post-war house party, where Claudio falls in love with Hero and Benedick reignites his altogether more combative courtship with Beatrice. Youthful passions run riot before peace ultimately breaks out.

Christopher Luscombe makes his RSC directorial debut, having last appeared with the Company as an actor in 1997. His recent directing work includes The Merry Wives of Windsor and The Comedy of Errors for Shakespeare's Globe, as well as Madness of George III and Spamalot in the West End.

Deputy Artistic Director, Erica Whyman, will direct the same company in her first production in the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, The Christmas Truce. This new play, by Phil Porter, for families and audiences of all ages, has been specially commissioned for this season. The story is inspired by real events exactly 100 years ago, when soldiers along the Western Front left their trenches on Christmas Eve, carrying only their courage and humanity, to meet their enemies in No Man's Land to talk, exchange gifts and, incredibly, play football. The production will be designed by Associate Designer, Tom Piper, with lighting by Charles Balfour and music by Sam Kenyon.

The Christmas Truce will draw on true stories of soldiers in the Warwickshire Regiment and in particular, the experiences of local cartoonist, Bruce Bairnsfather, who worked at the original Shakespeare Memorial Theatre as an electrical engineer, and whose famous comic creation 'Old Bill' was hugely popular with the troops.

As the RSC creates the production throughout this year, the Company invites local people and those with connections to the Regiment to help uncover and commemorate stories from the period. An Open House community day will be held at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre on Saturday 8 March from 10am to 3pm for people to share and discover more about their own First World War family history. A supporting exhibition about Bruce Bairnsfather will open in the PACCAR Room in the autumn.

Swan Theatre: 6 October 2014 - 7 March 2015

The RSC continues to stage the plays of Shakespeare's contemporaries in the Swan Theatre. Extending the 'Roaring Girls' season, Gregory Doran will direct Eileen Atkins in a new production of the rarely-performed Jacobean domestic tragedy by Dekker, Ford and Rowley, The Witch of Edmonton, which will play in repertoire with an extended run of The White Devil, directed by Maria Aberg.

Eileen Atkins returns to the RSC in the title role of Elizabeth Sawyer, who is derided by her neighbours and accused of being a witch until she seeks revenge on those who have wronged her. Eileen last performed with the RSC in 1997 in The Unexpected Man with Michael Gambon. Her many credits include Cranford, for which she won a BAFTA and Emmy as well as Gosford Park. Her latest stage appearance is in Ellen Terry with Eileen Atkins at the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse in London. The production will be designed by Nikki Turner, with lighting by Associate Artist, Tim Mitchell, and music by Associate Artist, Paul Englishby.

The RSC's winter season in the Swan continues with a very different Jacobean classic and the premiere of a new commission.

Thomas Dekker's festive comedy The Shoemaker's Holiday, produced for the first time by the RSC, will be directed by Phillip Breen, who directed The Merry Wives of Windsor for the Company in 2012. Written in 1599, in the dying years of Queen Elizabeth's reign, it depicts a nation overshadowed by foreign wars and explores class, conflict and cobblers in love. When his father sends him to war to reform his ways, Rowland Lacy must take drastic action to avoid any chance of injury whilst secretly pursuing his love. He goes from riches to rags; losing himself among the craftsmen of London as he assumes the guise of a Dutch shoemaker at the shop of the larger-than-life Simon Eyre and his wife Margery, who are on their way from rags to riches.

The production will play in repertoire with Oppenheimer, a major new play written by Tom Morton-Smith about 'the father of the atom bomb', J. Robert Oppenheimer. As fascism spreads across Europe in 1939, theoretical physicists in California recognise the horrendous potential of atomic fission. The charismatic Oppenheimer spearheads the largest scientific undertaking in human history and races to win the battle of the laboratories to create a devastating weapon which could bring an end not only to the Second World War, but to all wars.

A history play for our times, Tom Morton-Smith's Oppenheimer looks into the heart of the Manhattan Project, exploring the tension between scientific advances and the justification of their use during wartime and reveals the personal cost of achieving greatness. Tom Morton-Smith is a former writer in residence at Paines Plough, whose play In Doggerland, produced by Box of Tricks, toured the UK last autumn. His play Everyday Maps for Everyday Use was produced at the Finborough Theatre in December 2012. Angus Jackson, Associate Director at Chichester Festival Theatre, will direct his first production for the RSC.

Shakespeare's 450th birthday: 23 April 2014

Taking inspiration from Ben Jonson's 'Star of Poets' description of William Shakespeare, the RSC will launch its Shakespeare birthday festivities with a fireworks display from the top of the Royal Shakespeare Theatre after the evening performance of Henry IV Part I from 10.30pm. Emergency Exit Arts, one of the country's best and most experienced providers of pyrotechnics, will create this special anniversary event. .

The Other Place at The Courtyard Theatre: 'Midsummer Mischief' Festival 14 June - 12 July 2014

This month-long Festival of new plays is inspired by the ethos of the original The Other Place, which began life in a tin shed in 1974 under the visionary leadership of its founding director, Buzz Goodbody. The Company has commissioned writers to respond as radically as they would like to the provocation that 'well behaved women rarely make history', in order to complement the 'Roaring Girls' season in the Swan Theatre.

The programme will include four plays, staged in pairs over two evenings, playing in repertoire with a shared cast in a purpose-built temporary studio on the current Courtyard Theatre stage. Further details of the productions and supporting activities over the festival weekends will be announced soon. There will be an exhibition to remember 40 years of The Other Place and opportunities to meet the writers and other theatre artists in residence.

As part of the Festival programme, the RSC and The Ohio State University have also commissioned a co-production of The Tempest directed by Kelly Hunter and especially developed for children and young people with autism. The project builds on the long term partnership between the RSC and Ohio State which includes work with teachers and students across Ohio.

Kelly Hunter has been developing a research project with children with autism at the University's Nisonger Centre, a centre dedicated to exploring the causes and cures for autism. An actor and director, Kelly has developed the "Hunter Heartbeat Method", a unique approach which uses Shakespeare's rhythmic language and physical gesture to release communicative blocks within children with autism. Her most recent RSC credits include Goneril and Hermione in David Farr's productions of King Lear and The Winter's Tale in Stratford, London and New York in 2009. The hour-long, specially-adapted production will feature actors from the UK and from the USA. It will premiere at the RSC in June 2014 and then tour to The Ohio State University. The initiative builds on the programme of 'relaxed' performances that the RSC has been running since 2013.

The Winter Season forms their contribution to the events commemorating the First World War and is the next stage of our journey through the entire First Folio over the next six years.

The RSC continues Young Shakespeare Nation (YSN) to give a new generation of children and young people unprecedented access to the RSC's work and enable more of them to enjoy the challenge of Shakespeare's plays. Young Shakespeare Nation, in partnership with The Prince's Foundation for Children & the Arts (CATA), supports schools, teachers, children and young people to explore the broadest and more ambitious range of plays and teaching approaches.

The RSC was the first theatre company to broadcast its work directly to schools with Richard II in 2013. 87% of the schools audience was new to the RSC's work and 99% reported that they would now consider going to the theatre. The series continues with broadcasts of Henry IV Parts I & II, Love's Labour's Lost and Love's Labour's Won (Much Ado About Nothing).

Also as part of YSN, the RSC invites primary and secondary school teachers to Stratford-upon-Avon in November to participate in our first Young Shakespeare Nation teachers' conference which will build on their existing knowledge and help them to teach more of the canon and make more adventurous choices.

Schools from Blackpool, Bradford, Canterbury, Cornwall, London and Newcastle will join the RSC's 400-strong Learning and Performance Network. The Company also deepens its partnerships with ten regional theatres across the country, working with teachers, children and young people sharing high quality performances of Shakespeare in and with local communities.

The RSC also launches a new series of masterclasses providing entry points into the RSC's artistic and teaching practices. Students and teachers will connect with artists who are the heart of the Company's repertoire such as Erica Whyman, Phil Porter, Hilary Mantel and Mike Poulton.

Henry IV Parts I & II, UK national tour and London:

After their run in the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford, both parts of Henry IV tour the UK during autumn/winter 2014. Full tour dates and booking information will be issued next week. Both parts of Henry IV will then perform in repertoire at the Barbican from 29 November 2014 - 24 January 2015.

A Life of Galileo

Theatre Royal Bath and Birmingham Repertory Theatre presents the RSC's production of A Life of Galileo, by Bertolt Brecht, translated by Mark Ravenhill and directed by Roxana Silbert, which tours to Birmingham, Cheltenham, Bath, Kingston and Cambridge from 28 February to 5 April. Further details at


The National Theatre of Scotland and the RSC present Dunsinane by David Greig and directed by Roxana Silbert, which tours to Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Russia from 26 April to 18 May 2014, supported by the Scottish Government International Touring Fund with additional support from the British Council. For further information see

Antony and Cleopatra

Antony and Cleopatra, directed by Tarell Alvin McCraney and co-produced with The Public Theater, New York and GableStage, Miami, is currently playing at Miami's Colony Theatre until 9 February and then tours to New York from 18 Feb - 23 March 2014. The Royal Shakespeare Company in America is presented in collaboration with The Ohio State University. Further information at

Live from Stratford-upon-Avon

The next live screenings from the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon are the two parts of Henry IV, directed by Gregory Doran and The Two Gentlemen of Verona directed by Simon Godwin. These will be followed by a free schools' streaming direct into classrooms around the UK.

Live screenings of both Love's Labour's Lost and Love's Labour's Won will follow in early 2015. Encore screenings in the UK and worldwide will also be available. See editors' notes for dates and booking information.

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