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Judi Dench and Peter Hall Reunite for MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM

48 years after Dame Judi Dench first played Titania in the 1962 Royal Shakespeare Company production of 'A Midsummer Night's Dream' directed by Peter Hall, she revisits the role again in a new production of 'Dream', also helmed by Hall, and currently playing at the Rose Theatre in Kingston.

Since their collaboration in 1962, Dench and Hall have subsequently worked together on Antony and Cleopatra (National Theatre), The Royal Family (Haymarket) and Hay Fever (West End). The Times Online spoke to the long-time friends on their lasting partnership and the revival of 'Dream' which is slated for a run through March 20, 2010.

The Times explains how Hall offered Dench the opportunity to revisit Titania. "When Hall called to offer her the role, he didn't pause for breath in case she thought he'd gone mad, explaining that he wanted her to play the queen of the forest as Elizabeth I, in a play within a play. "There was a slight pause after I'd finished my spiel, and she said, ‘Right, I'll do it.'" 

For her part, Dench was keen to return to familiar territory "I know all the parts... they stay in there." Her association with the role of Titania goes back to her days at the Mount, a Quaker boarding school in York, where she was first cast to play the role in a production. "It was a huge thing to have been chosen."

Hall also tells the Times that back in the early days of their collaboration he was sure that prospects would be bright for Dench. "In 1962, at the end of the Dream," Hall recalls, looking at his leading lady, "I said to this one, ‘One day, you'll play Cleopatra.' And she said, ‘Don't be ridiculous! A little runt like me? I couldn't possibly. And I said, ‘Well, just bear in mind, when the time comes for you to play her, that I'm first in the queue.' Twenty years later, the phone rings and it's Dame Judi, saying, ‘Hello. I've been asked by Stratford to go and do Cleopatra. Will you do it?' And I said, ‘How long have I got?' And she said, ‘Oh, about a week.'"

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Peter Hall's production of A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM stars Dame Judi Dench, Charles Edwards and more. Dench will play the role of Titania with Edwards taking the role of Oberon. The rest of the cast will include William Chubb, Oliver Chris, Msimisi Dlamini, Richard Keightley, James Laurenson, Ben Mansfield, Reece Ritchie, Susan Salmon, Annabel Scholey, Simon Scott, Sophie Scott, Timothy Speyer, Rachael Stirling, Julian Wadham, Leon Williams, and Tam Williams. The show will run February 9th through March 20th, 2010.

Set in Elizabethan England, Peter Hall's new production sees Titania, the Fairy Queen, as a portrait of the ageing Queen Elizabeth I, fascinated with the theatre, besieged by courtiers but ‘married to the people of England'. A Midsummer Night's Dream reunites Peter Hall and Judi Dench, an enduring theatrical partnership lasting some fifty years. Judi Dench first played Titania for Peter Hall with the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1962 and they have subsequently worked together on productions such as Antony and Cleopatra (National Theatre), The Royal Family (Haymarket) and Hay Fever (West End).

Judi Dench is a long standing supporter of the Rose and hosted a fundraising gala for the theatre in 2004. Priority booking is now open to Friends of the Rose for an extended three week booking period.

Sir Peter Reginald Frederick Hall CBE founded the Royal Shakespeare Company (1960-68) and directed the National Theatre (1973-88), and has been prominent in defending public subsidy of the arts in Britain. From 1954 to 1955 he was at the Oxford Playhouse where he directed several notable young actors such as Ronnie Barker and Roderick Cook. In August 1955, he directed the English-language premiere of Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett at the Arts Theatre, London. From 1956-1959 he ran the Arts Theatre and directed several plays including the English-language premiere of The Waltz of The Toreadors by the French dramatist Jean Anouilh.[3] He was at Shakespeare Memorial Theatre in Stratford-on-Avon for the 1957 to 1959 seasons.[3] There, his productions included: Cymbeline with Peggy Ashcroft; Coriolanus with Laurence Olivier and Edith Evans; and A Midsummer Night's Dream with Charles Laughton. His latest project is as director of the Rose Theatre at Kingston upon Thames which opened in 2008, and which draws design inspiration from the original Rose theatre. In its basic shell prior to fit out, it has seen a sell out run of his production of As You Like It.

Dame Judi Dench is once of the most internationally celebrated stage and screen actresses in history. Originally trained as a set designer, Dench made her professional stage debut in 1957 with The Old Vic Company and has since performed leading roles with the Royal Shakespeare Company, the National Theatre, on the West End and on Broadway. Most notable was her starring performance in Cabaret in 1968. In television, she achieved success early on in the series A Fine Romance from 1981 until 1984 and in 1992 began a continuing role in the television romantic comedy series As Time Goes By. Her film notoriety began as Agent M in GoldenEye (1995), a role she has played in each James Bond film since. She received several notable film awards for her role as Queen Victoria in Mrs. Brown (1997), and has since been acclaimed for her work in such films as Shakespeare in Love (1998), Chocolat (2000), Iris (2001), Mrs Henderson Presents (2005) and Notes on a Scandal (2006), and the television production "The Last of the Blonde Bombshells" (2001). Her awards include ten BAFTAs, seven Laurence Olivier Awards, two Screen Actors Guild Awards, two Golden Globes, an Academy Award, and a Tony Award. Dench was awarded the OBE in 1970, became a Dame Commander of the British Empire in 1988, and a Companion of Honour in 2005.

Charles Edwards is an English actor, the youngest of four brothers in his family. He graduated from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in 1992. His first professional theatre engagement was in Blithe Spirit at age 24. His film and television credits include An Ideal Husband, Monarch of the Glen, Mansfield Park and Murder Rooms: The Dark Beginnings of Sherlock Holmes. Edwards has received acclaim for his Broadway debut performance as Richard Hannay in the 2005 play of The 39 Steps, in the first London production in 2006, and in the first US productions in 2007 (Boston) and 2008 (New York City). He is the only actor from the London production to transfer to the US productions. Edwards concluded his run in the play on 6 July 2008.
The design team includes Elizabeth Bury as set designer, Peter Mumford on lights, and sound designer Gregory Glarke.

Performances for the show will take place Monday through Wednesday with weekday matinees. Tickets for A MIDSUMMER NGHT's DREAM range in price from £12 to £37.50 with pit cushions available for £8. Tickets may be purchased online at www.rosetheatrekingston.org or by calling the Rose Theatre's box office at 0871 230 1552.

The Rose Theatre, Kingston is an 900 seat venue in the centre of Kingston Upon Thames. The design of the auditorium took its inspiration from the Elizabethan Rose Theatre, situated on London's Bankside and has the same lozenge shaped stage, semi-circular seating configuration and pit area, where audiences can sit on cushions to watch performances. The Rose opened in January 2008, since when it has presented a number of visiting productions plus a host of one nights shows, including a regular residency from the Comedy Store. It also provides a major cultural centre for the local community and is developing a programme of education work centered on the Spoken Word. Under the leadership of Stephen Unwin, Artistic Director, and Peter Hall, Director Emeritus, the Rose has already presented three of its own productions, with three more to come in the autumn (Bedroom Farce, Miss Julie (1 Oct - 28 Nov) and Treasure Island (11 Dec - 9 Jan). Peter Hall's production of Love's Labour's Lost and Stephen Unwin's productions of A Christmas Carol and The Winslow Boy have established the Rose as a major producing theatre.

For more information, visit www.rosetheatrekingston.org.

 



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