LOVE'S LABOUR'S LOST & LOVE'S LABOUR'S WON Pairing, THE CHRISTMAS TRUCE & More Set for RSC's Winter 2014 Season

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.



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