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RSC Announces Updates to 2022 Season, Including Disabled Actor Arthur Hughes as Richard III

Learn more about what the company has to offer this season!

RSC Announces Updates to 2022 Season, Including Disabled Actor Arthur Hughes as Richard III

In the week that the Royal Shakespeare Company's new season opens in Stratford-upon-Avon, the Company today released further details of its 2022 activity including three new Shakespeare productions that speak directly to our world today, the launch of TikTok Tickets, plus details of how people can participate in 37 Plays: a nationwide search to write the stories of today co-created in partnership with the RSC's network of 12 regional Theatre Partners, over 200 Associate Schools and freelance artists who together form the Royal Shakespeare Community.

The Company also renewed its commitment to ensuring every young person has access to an arts-rich education and will create a new Shakespeare curriculum available free for all to use from 2023. Evidence clearly shows the impact that an arts-rich education has on young people to support their development, accelerate language acquisition, improve attitudes to learning and their life chances.

Richard III

Gregory Doran directs Shakespeare's final instalment of the vivid and enthralling story of the brutal struggle for the English crown, Richard III, running in the Royal Shakespeare Theatre from Thursday 23 June to Saturday 8 October 2022.

This premiere features Arthur Hughes in the title role of Richard following his RSC debut in Wars of the Roses on the Royal Shakespeare Theatre stage in Spring 2022.

Arthur is best known for his roles as Ryan McDaniel in supernatural Netflix series The Innocents, Ruairi Donovan in BBC Radio 4 series The Archers, and was most recently seen in Jack Thorne's Channel 4 care-home drama Help with Jodie Comer and Stephen Graham. Arthur's previous stage credits include La Cage Aux Folles (Park Theatre), Our Town (Regent's Park Open Air Theatre, London) The Solid Life of Sugar Water (NT/Graeae Theatre Company), Saint Joan (Donmar Warehouse), Vassa (Almeida), Julius Caesar and One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (Sheffield Crucible).

Arthur was recently announced as a co-lead in the ground-breaking new disabled civil-rights drama Then Barbara Met Alan which will air on BBC Two and iPlayer in Spring 2022. Written by multiple Bafta-winner Jack Thorne, and award-winning actor-turned-writer Genevieve Barr, the film tells the story of two disabled cabaret performers, Alan Holdsworth (Arthur) and Barbara Lisicki (Ruth Madeley) who met at a gig in 1989 and would go on to become the driving force behind DAN - the Direct-Action Network, whose fearless and coordinated protests pushed the campaign for disabled rights into the spotlight.

Arthur said:

'It's no exaggeration to say that playing Richard at the RSC is a dream come true. Richard is the most murderous and charismatic character in Shakespeare's plays, and... he's disabled! I'm thrilled not only to be playing this title role at the RSC, but also that a major production of this play is putting disability centre stage. It's sadly rare in many plays to find a leading disabled character, and with this production I hope we prove that disabled talent deserves to be in the spotlight."

Gregory Doran's recent RSC productions include Measure for Measure (2019), The Boy In The Dress (2019) Troilus and Cressida (2018), The Tempest (2016), King Lear (2016), Death of a Salesman (2015), Henry V (2015), Henry IV Parts 1 & 2 (2014) and Richard II (2013). Set and Costume design is by Stephen Brimson Lewis.

Gregory remains on compassionate leave from his role as Artistic Director. He is currently co-directing Henry VI: Rebellion with Owen Horsley which opens in the Royal Shakespeare Theatre on 1 April 2022.

All's Well That Ends Well

Playing in repertoire with Richard III in the Royal Shakespeare Theatre this summer will be Blanche McIntyre's contemporary take on William Shakespeare's enduring dark comedy All's Well That Ends Well, in the Royal Shakespeare Theatre from Tuesday 16 August to Saturday 8 October 2022.

Blanche McIntyre's directing credits span Shakespeare's Globe, The National Theatre, Chichester Festival Theatre, Donmar Warehouse, Almeida Theatre, Hampstead Theatre, Headlong Theatre, Nuffield Theatre, English Touring Theatre, Manchester Royal Exchange, among many others.

Blanche's previous RSC productions include Titus Andronicus (2017) and The Two Noble Kinsmen (2016).

Recent directing credits include Measure for Measure and Bartholomew Fair (Sam Wanamaker Playhouse) Hymn (Almeida/Sky Arts), Botticelli In The Fire (Hampstead Theatre) and Tartuffe (National Theatre).

All's Well That Ends Well is Designed by Robert Innes Hopkins, who previously collaborated with Blanche McIntyre on the RSC's Titus Andronicus (2017).

Blanche said:

'I am so excited to have the chance to direct Shakespeare's most modern comedy at the RSC. All's Well that Ends Well, as full of grief and nostalgia as romance and adventure, with its story of sexual politics, class prejudice and generation gaps, would always have felt contemporary. But the fantasy relationships and fake identities in the play make it a perfect match for our anxious, idealistic, lonely, social-media-addicted age.

'I'm thrilled to be working again with designer Robert Innes Hopkins for our second RSC collaboration. We can promise a fleet footed, inventive, contemporary, colourful production, with one foot in real life and one in the online world. I look forward very much to bringing it to audiences, and I hope they will have a thought provoking as well as entertaining evening.'

Gregory's production of Richard III, playing in repertoire with Blanche's production of All's Well That Ends Well, fittingly mark the final productions, in the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, of the Company's ten-year pledge to produce all of Shakespeare's collected plays for the stage. Screen adaptations of both Richard III and All's Well That Ends Well will be captured, completing a unique collection of Shakespeare on stage, produced by one Company across one decade.

First Encounters with Shakespeare: Twelfth Night

Touring to UK theatres and schools in their community in the autumn, Shakespeare's comedy of mistaken identity First Encounters with Shakespeare: Twelfth Night receives a 21st Century update in a new production edited and directed by Robin Belfield, co-created with the RSC's partner theatres and Associate Schools.

Driven by the passion that young people have for the environment and their concern about climate crisis, this new production of Twelfth Night has been created with a focus on sustainable practice: from the way it is made to the way it tours. The production, designed by Georgie White, will feature a set made by students from Birmingham Ormiston Academy using reclaimed and recycled materials.

First Encounters productions give 7-13 year olds a fantastic first experience of Shakespeare whilst also being brilliant introductions for anyone new to his work. Using edited versions of the original language, they bring the plays to life in 90- minute productions for audiences of any age.

Twelfth Night will tour to theatres and schools in Birmingham, Northampton, Cumbria, Blackpool, Bradford, York, Hull, Nottingham and Suffolk before returning to Stratford-upon-Avon for performances from Thursday 10 - Saturday 12 November. See listings for full touring information.

TikTok Tickets

The RSC and TikTok want to inspire the next generation of theatre audiences, developing a lasting commitment and love of theatre and live performance. Developed in consultation with the RSC's Youth Advisory Board, TikTok Tickets opens further opportunities for young people to see RSC shows for £10, whether they are booking independently or visiting with their school. The collaboration will deliver unique creative and educational experiences for young people and students.

TikTok Tickets are available to all 14-25-year-olds, with a focus on increasing access to theatre regionally across the country and state school sector. The RSC will work with TikTok to provide subsidised travel, information and support to encourage young people's access to RSC productions and to help develop diverse audiences of the future.

From June 2022, young people and full-time students can see an RSC show in Stratford-upon-Avon or London for £10 (£5 for reduced-price previews), while state schools can also book £10 TikTok Tickets for group visits in Stratford-upon-Avon.

Although open to any 14 - 25-year-old, the partnership will particularly engage those communities most in need. Work with the RSC's Associate Schools network will deepen young people's engagement with theatre and live performance ensuring state schools are encouraging students to book tickets independently as well as organising group visits.

Rich Waterworth, General Manager, UK & EU, at TikTok said:

'Creativity and the arts have always been at the heart of our community on TikTok. Every day, we are the stage to theatre renditions, comedy performances or modern-day plays, performed and imagined by creators from every part of the UK. By partnering with the Royal Shakespeare Company to provide greater access to the work they do, we hope to inspire more young people to enjoy, experience and participate in theatre and the arts in all its forms.'

The RSC and TikTok will create engaging and relevant content to ensure young people can see connections between the plays and their own lives and experiences including regular TikTok takeovers, behind-the-scenes access and special events. Each young person can purchase two TikTok Tickets per booking and can book the tickets as part of a mixed group with friends and family.

Tickets will be available to book for Richard III and All's Well That Ends Well from Monday 7 March.

Our Royal Shakespeare Community

The Royal Shakespeare Community incorporates 1,000 schools, 1,500 adults and over half a million young people across the nation, enabling them to learn about, participate in, challenge, and make performances of Shakespeare's plays.

37 Plays - Writing the stories of our nation

Anybody from anywhere in the UK can participate in 37 Plays, a nationwide project to capture the stories of today. Working with the RSC's 12 regional partner theatres, the newly launched website 37plays.co.uk will offer playwriting support and advice to those who are writing a play for the first-time, as well as emerging and professional writers throughout 2022.

This ambitious endeavour is supported by award-winning playwrights Juliet Gilkes Romero and Mark Ravenhill as ambassadors and senior consultants. The website will launch with a new podcast series hosted by Mark and featuring contributions from some of the most inspiring voices currently working in the UK.

Taking inspiration from Mark's acclaimed 101 Notes on Playwriting, published on Twitter throughout Spring 2021, each 15-minute episode will explore two playwriting tips and will feature guest contributions from Lolita Chakrabarti, Danusia Samal, Chinonyerem Odimba, James Graham, Winsome Pinnock and Hannah Khalil.

The first episode is now live with a further five episodes to be released throughout February and March.

Submissions for 37 Plays will open on 1 January 2023 and close on 31 January 2023. Submitted plays will be read by a national panel selected by the RSC's network of Associate Regional Theatres: The Alhambra Theatre, Bradford, The Grand Theatre Blackpool, Hull Truck Theatre, Hall for Cornwall, Intermission Youth Theatre, The Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury, Northern Stage, Norwich Theatre, Nottingham Theatre Royal & Royal Concert Hall, The New Vic Theatre, Stoke, Silhouette Youth Theatre and York Theatre Royal.

The chosen 37 plays will be announced in April 2023 and will be performed script-in-hand, across the UK and online in autumn 2023.

From five-act plays to short-form monologues, plays performed on stage, in classrooms or on the streets, to untried and emerging formats, 37 Plays invites children, young people, and adults, including established and first-time writers to write the comedies, tragedies and untold histories of our time.

37 Plays is open to anyone in the UK who wants to submit a play with the simple brief of creating a piece of drama that can make people laugh, smile, cry or think. The project will explore who we are as a society and inspire conversation about what the future of dramatic writing might look and feel like, on and off our stages.

Play submissions divide into three age categories of up to 11 years old, 12 to 17 years old and 18 years old and above. Multi-authored plays may nominate a lead writer or average age of writers.

Submitted plays must be predominantly written in English, or in British Sign Language, with a translation provided for any text not in English language*. Entries must not be less than one A4 page and cannot be more than a hundred A4 pages. Plays must be a complete original story, not a sample of a story or an adaptation of a story. Submitted plays must not have had a professional production or be under commission at the time of submission.

* For Makaton users, plays can be submitted in Communication Print with a written English translation to accompany. The RSC welcomes BSL entries and does not require a translation to be provided.

All of the 37 plays selected will be awarded a fee for publication, performance and/or broadcast. Any submission subsequently commissioned for production will be subject to usual commission processes approved by the Writer's Guild of Great Britain.

Full details of Terms and Conditions of entry and associated FAQs can be accessed via 37plays.co.uk

A new Shakespeare curriculum for all
The RSC has one of the UK's largest arts learning programmes and believes that all young people should have access to an arts-rich education. Research highlights the uneven playing field with some young people having regular access to proven life defining arts opportunities, whilst others miss out completely.

In 2023 the RSC will launch a new online Shakespeare curriculum. Developed with the RSC Youth Advisory Board, young people, teachers and artists nationally, the curriculum will be available free and online for all UK primary and secondary schools to provide inspiration and resources for teachers and young people to make and shape their own Shakespeare curriculum at Key Stage 3.

The RSC will also expand the Company's teacher professional development activity using proven performance-based approaches to teaching Shakespeare to support young people's development, accelerate language acquisition and improve attitudes to learning.

Work on the curriculum begins now and will be developed throughout 2022. The RSC's ambition is to influence the teaching of Shakespeare in every secondary school in the country once the curriculum launches in 2023.

Jacqui O' Hanlon, Director of Learning and National Partnerships said:

'A new Shakespeare curriculum is needed that enables young people and their teachers to explore, test and challenge the relevance of Shakespeare's work to our lives and world today. Our society needs students who can wrestle with complexity, problem solve, interpret, analyse; who can tell the difference between good arguments and bad; who can see and appreciate different points of view.

'Exploring Shakespeare's plays as actors and directors do in the rehearsal room can create these kinds of outcomes for all learners. Current curriculum guidance states that students should study two plays by Shakespeare and analyse the language. We know there are so many more powerful learning opportunities with Shakespeare's work. We look forward to collaborating with young people, teachers and artists to create a Shakespeare curriculum for the 21st Century.'

Other RSC Learning activity to support young people and teachers includes:

  • The return of the RSC's annual Summer School for lifelong learners, which will run online from Wednesday 24 - Saturday 27 August with an inspiring mix of online and in-person sessions soon to be announced, a week-long
  • Playmaking Festival from Monday 11 - Friday 15 July taking place in the Royal Shakespeare Theatre and bringing together over 440 young people aged 5 to 18 from the RSC's national Associate Schools network
  • New on demand online conference programme for GCSE English students running from Tuesday 26 - Friday 29 April where schools can sign up to a programme of on demand and live content to support students as they prepare for their GCSE exams.
  • Sixth Form Student Conference on Friday 16 September exploring Richard III which will provide unique insights into the production and the interpretive choices made by the company

The Clore Learning Centre in Stratford-upon-Avon will re-open from Tuesday 3 May with a programme of in person workshops and conferences for young people and teachers throughout the summer term and next academic year.

This year also marks the launch of a new Teacher Hub as part of the RSC's award-winning Shakespeare Learning Zone website: a bespoke resource for students aged 11-18 years visited by over 3 million+ users worldwide annually.

The new Teacher Hub is a fully personalised learning space to enable teachers to save content, store their favourite resources and create their own lessons using videos, activities and images from across the learning zone site. To access the Shakespeare Learning Zone, visit rsc.org.uk/shakespeare-learning-zone

Swan Theatre Update

During 2022, the Swan Theatre will undergo essential construction and maintenance work to improve the experience of the auditorium for audiences, with new seats and improved access, including additional seating with level access and a total of 11 wheelchair positions, a new hearing loop and improved auditorium lighting.

The inside of the Swan Theatre will be stripped back to its wooden frame, and a new structural grid installed to take the weight off the ceiling. At the same time, a new infrastructure for lighting, sound and video streaming will be installed, as well as cleaning and repairing the wood and brickwork. These essential works will increase the technical flexibility of the theatre and help us to make productions more sustainably. We expect the Swan Theatre to reopen in early 2023.



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