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RSC Presents Howard Barker's THE CASTLE As Part Of Birthday Celebrations

On October 21 2009 actors in four continents and eighteen countries are joining together to perform the work of British playwright Howard Barker. As the earth turns, performances will cascade across the globe to celebrate the 21st birthday of his theatre company, the Wrestling School. They begin in the summer of Perth, Western Australia and end in the winter of Burnaby, Western Canada. On this journey, Barker's plays and poetry will be spoken in seven languages by more than two hundred performers.

As part of 21 for 21 Festival, the Royal Shakespeare Company is presenting a staged reading of The Castle at the Theatre Royal's Studio space in Newcastle-upon-Tyne on October 21 at 7pm.

Newly appointed RSC Associate Director Roxana Silbert, who is in charge of the RSC Newcastle residency, is directing The Castle. The cast includes members of the company's current ensemble: Adam Burton (Nailer/Baldwin), Brian Doherty (Holiday/Rowland), Darrell D'Silva (Batter), Phillip Edgerley (Stuckley), Patrick Romer (Hush), David Rubin (Krak), Oliver Ryan (Brian/Reginald/Soldier), Simone Saunders (Skinner) and Hannah Young (Cant). They are joined for this production by newcomer to the ensemble, Geraldine Alexander.

The Castle is one of Howard Barker's most acclaimed plays and was originally produced by the RSC in 1985 with a cast which included Ian McDiarmud, Harriet Walter and Penny Downie. It is a scathing satire of sexuality and war, set in the time of the crusades. It is renowned for its verbal dexterity, wit and passion.

The reading will be followed by a post-show discussion about Barker's impact on contemporary theatre making.

21 for 21 is a remarkable event of staged readings, full performances and devised works that rejoice in Barker's playwriting, directing, poetry and painting.The festival is surprisingly diverse

The 21 for 21 project is the brainchild of Sarah Goldingay, the executive director of The Wrestling School. She explains: "Howard has been writing plays since the 1970s. I first came across his work when I was a student: I was mesmerised by his dark and erotic stories and poetic language. The 21st anniversary of the Wrestling School Theatre Company gives us a great reason to revisit his rich body of work, old and new. His plays seem even more relevant now in a world that is trying to understand the wars it is fighting and economic turmoil it is in. Everyone involved in the project is giving their time for free, and because of their generosity something that's been run from my computer in the wilds of Devon is going to be shared by audiences across the globe. We're delighted to be having a birthday party with so many wonderful people."



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