Full Casting Announced for Royal Shakespeare Company's CHRISTMAS TRUCE
Full casting is announced for the world premiere of Phil Porter's new play, The Christmas Truce. Inspired by the real events of the First World War exactly 100 years ago and directed by Deputy Artistic Director Erica Whyman, this uplifting play for families opens to the press on Tuesday 9 December in the Royal Shakespeare Theatre.
Erica Whyman makes her Royal Shakespeare Theatre directorial debut having recently directed plays by Timberlake Wertenbaker and Alice Birch as part of the RSC's Midsummer Mischief festival in The Other Place. Erica was Chief Executive of Northern Stage from 2005 to 2012; her productions whilst there included Oh What a Lovely War, which was nominated for two TMA awards, Oh, The Humanity, and Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf. As Gregory Doran's deputy Erica takes a lead on the development and commission of new writing for the RSC.
Phil Porter's The Christmas Truce is inspired by the incredible true Christmas story from 1914, when soldiers along the Western Front left their trenches on Christmas Eve to meet their enemies in No Man's Land to talk, exchange gifts and play football. Phil's previous work at the RSC includes Here Lies Mary Spindler and editing The Tempest, Pericles and with Sean Foley A Mad World My Masters, which begins a UK tour with English Touring Theatre in 2015. His other plays include Blink (Soho Theatre/Traverse Theatre/New York) and The Cracks In My Skin (Manchester Royal Exchange, Bruntwood Award).
The Christmas Truce draws on the story of Warwickshire Regiment Soldier and local cartoonist, Capt. Bruce Bairnsfather, who worked at the original Shakespeare Memorial Theatre as an electrical engineer. Bruce Bairnsfather is played by Joseph Kloska returning to the RSC having last been with the Company in Measure for Measure and Gregory Doran's Written on the Heart. Bairnsfather's most famous cartoon character Old Bill is brought to life in the play and is played by Gerard Horan. They are joined by Sam Alexander; Peter Basham; William Belchambers; Nick Haverson; Tunji Kasim; Sophie Khan Levy; Oliver Lynes; Emma Manton; Chris McCalphy; Peter McGovern; Frances McNamee; Chris Nayak; Jamie Newall; Roderick Smith; Flora Spencer-Longhurst; Harry Waller; Thomas Wheatley and Leah Whitaker.
As the RSC creates the production the Company continues to invite local people and those with connections to the Warwickshire Regiment to share and discover their own First World War family history. A short film of some of these stories is available here: www.rsc.org.uk/whats-on/the-christmas-truce/sharing-stories-video.aspx
Alongside The Christmas Truce there will be a free exhibition exploring the life and work of Capt. Bruce Bairnsfather, who became world-famous during the First World War for his cartoons depicting life on the frontline. Published weekly in 'The Bystander' magazine his cartoons caught the imagination of the soldiers at war, and their families back home. Bairnsfather became a household name and published volumes of his cartoons selling over a million copies. This free exhibition will explore his fascinating life and work as well as the artist's interesting personal connections to Stratford-upon-Avon and the Royal Shakespeare Company. Curated by the Royal Shakespeare Company in collaboration with Mark Warby, a leading Bruce Bairnsfather collector and writer, the exhibition opens on the 10 October 2014.