RSC to Present First MIDSUMMER MISCHIEF FESTIVAL, June 14-July 12

RSC to Present First MIDSUMMER MISCHIEF FESTIVAL, June 14-July 12

Inspired by the original ethos and spirit of The Other Place under the leadership of Buzz Goodbody, and to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the original building in 1974, the Royal Shakespeare Company presents the first Midsummer Mischief Festival, led by Deputy Artistic Director Erica Whyman. It runs 14 June - 12 July 2014.

The festival will include:

  • Four plays written by Alice Birch, E. V. Crowe, Timberlake Wertenbaker and Abi Zakarian. Directed by Jo McInnes and Erica Whyman.
  • An exhibition celebrating the work of Buzz Goodbody at The Other Place.
  • Midsummer Sundae, a free one day event in the theatre gardens with live music, performances, theatre craft workshops and events for children and families

The festival, which runs over Midsummer including what would have been Buzz's birthday on 25 June, will include four new plays commissioned by the RSC, which respond to the provocation that 'well behaved women rarely make history', to complement the 'Roaring Girls' season in the Swan Theatre.

The four plays are presented in two programmes in a purpose-built temporary studio on the current Courtyard Theatre stage and will be performed in repertoire from 14 June - 12 July 2014:

PROGRAMME A: Directed by Erica Whyman
Revolt. She said. Revolt again. by Alice Birch
The Ant and the Cicada by Timberlake Wertenbaker

PROGRAMME B: Directed by Jo McInnes
I can hear you by E. V. Crowe
This is not an exit by Abi Zakarian

In Revolt. She said. Revolt again., Alice Birch isolates the forces acting on women in the 21st century and how we can blow them to pieces and start again. Alice received the Arts Foundation Award for Playwriting in 2014 and was shortlisted for the Bruntwood Prize 2013. Her plays include Open Court - Soap Opera (part of Royal Court's Open Court Season); Little on the Inside (part of Almeida Festival 2013); Life for Beginners and Many Moons. After its run in Stratford-upon-Avon the RSC will take Revolt. She said. Revolt again. to the Latitude Festival 17 - 20 July.

Timberlake Wertenbaker's The Ant and the Cicada asks searching questions about the economics of our world through the lives of two very different sisters tied together through a shared history and their dilapidated Greek mansion. Timberlake is one of Britain's most celebrated playwrights and is currently the Chair in Playwriting at the University of East Anglia, artistic adviser to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and on the council of the Royal Society of Literature. She has written and translated over 40 plays including Our Country's Good, Antigone and Our Ajax.

E. V. Crowe shows you should never ignore the advice of the matriarch in her play I can hear you, which follows a family who have a visit from their brother a week after his funeral. E. V Crowe's most recent play Virgin played at the Watford Palace Theatre. Her other plays include Liar, Liar (Unicorn Theatre), Hero and Kin (Royal Court Theatre), for which E. V. Crowe was shortlisted for the Most Promising Playwright at the Evening Standard Theatre Awards.

In Abi Zakarian's This is not an exit four women find themselves locked in a struggle, but paralysed by their own inaction as the inexorable and fatal cocktail hour draws near. Abi explores the ever circling arguments, debate and occasionally infuriating nature of the contemporary feminist movement. Abi is the author of six full length plays including A Thousand Yards and Swifter, Higher, Stronger; she is one of the playwrights-in-residence for the Schoolwrights scheme in East London.

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, especially developed for children and young people with Autism. The hour-long, specially-adapted production will be performed during the day from 24 June - 5 July on The Other Place stage.

Throughout the festival a free exhibition will be open exploring the fascinating and influential work of Buzz Goodbody, the RSC's first female theatre director and the lead figure in establishing The Other Place as the first studio theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon.

Midsummer Sundae on Sunday 22 June, 12pm - 5pm, will include free performances, workshops and activities for all in the RSC theatre gardens, Stratford-upon-Avon. Festival goers can take part in theatre skills workshops, get creative with crafts and feast on a fudge sundae. The Dell stage will feature live music by local musicians and performances of poetry, theatre and dance.

Further details of Midsummer Sundae, The Other Place exhibition and additional festival events will be announced at the end of April.

Booking: All tickets for Programme A and Programme B are £15 and are on sale now. £5 tickets for 16-25s gives access to £5 tickets for all RSC productions whether we are performing in Stratford-upon-Avon, London or on tour. Tickets can be booked in advance on the phone, online or in person with some available for sale on the day of performance. The scheme is supported by Project Partner, BP. A full schedule for the festival is available here: http://www.rsc.org.uk/whats-on/midsummer-mischief/. To book, call 0844 800 1110 or online at www.rsc.org.uk. Tickets will go on sale for Kelly Hunter's The Tempest on Wednesday 2 April.

The Other Place: The Other Place began life as a tin shed in 1974 under the visionary leadership of its founding director, Buzz Goodbody. Over the years the studio theatre developed a distinguished reputation as a place for invention, learning and experimentation, and a home for our new work. In 2004 the theatre closed to make room for The Courtyard Theatre, the temporary auditorium which was home to the RSC during the transformation of the Royal Shakespeare and Swan theatres. With the opening of the new theatres in 2010, the 1,000 seat Courtyard Theatre is no longer required making room for the return of The Other Place on the existing footprint.

We are now in the process of raising the money needed to bring back The Other Place, designing a space that will be a unique hub for rehearsal, research, artist development, learning and creativity. It will be a home for our new work, a vibrant, creative building which embodies the challenging, alternative spirit of the original Other Place. The ambition is to open the new theatre at the end of 2015.

Buzz Goodbody: Mary Ann "Buzz" Goodbody was born in London on 25 June 1946. Educated at Roedean and Sussex University, Goodbody first joined the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1967 as an assistant to John Barton, who co-founded the RSC with Peter Hall in 1960. Serving as a dramaturg for Terry Hands, Goodbody became an assistant director in 1969. Her involvement in Theatregoround (TGR) - a project producing small-scale Shakespearean productions - saw her 1970 production of Arden of Faversham performed at the Roundhouse in London, in addition to a national tour of her production of King John. A feminist, Buzz was involved in the Women's Liberation movement, and in 1971 she co-founded the Women's Street Theatre Group. Her 1971 production of The Oz Trial was heavily criticised, and Buzz was labelled 'a young and militant lady director.' In 1973, she staged a modern-day, feminist interpretation of As You Like It with Eileen Atkins in the role of Rosalind. In 1974, she became an associate director at the RSC, and was instrumental in establishing The Other Place, designed to be an alternative venue challenging the RSC's programme and practice. Buzz staged King Lear (1974) and Hamlet (1975) at The Other Place. Buzz died in April 1975, shortly after her production of Hamlet had opened. Her production of Hamlet was described by Times critic Irving Wardle as 'the key classical production of the decade.' BBC critic John Elsom called her one of theatre's 'most promising directors.'

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