Antony Sher is to make his third appearance for the Royal Shakespeare Company in two years with the announcement that he will play King Lear this coming winter.
The RSC announced its Winter 2015/6 programme yesterday. The company is set to mark the 600th anniversary of Agincourt, and continue Shakespeare’s Histories, with Gregory Doran’s production of Henry V.
Jonathan Munby’s acclaimed production of Ella Hickson’s Wendy & Peter Pan returns to the main theatre while two new plays premiere in the Swan – Hecuba by Marina Carr and Queen Anne by Helen Edmundson.
King Lear is paired with Death of a Salesman, also with Sher, and announced as one of the RSC’s major titles for 2016.
Gregory Doran opens his current production of Death of a Salesman this March on the main stage in Stratford to mark the centenary of Arthur Miller’s birth.
He will direct King Lear in the 400th anniversary year of Shakespeare’s death to complement Miller’s greatest play.
Henry V, running in the main house from September 12 to October 25,
will be the fourth in the series of Shakespeare’s History Plays.
Alex Hassell, who played Prince Hal in Henry IV Parts I & II, becomes King Henry V, the monarch who led England to victory in the Battle of Agincourt.
It will also be screened live to cinemas worldwide on October 21 as part of the RSC’s Live from Stratford-upon-Avon series.
Wendy & Peter Pan runs from November 17-January 31. This critically acclaimed and spectacular production played to packed houses in 2013 and will be revived with the original set and costumes.
Hecuba will play in the Swan Theatre from September 17 to October 17.
This searing new commission by Marina Carr explores war, womanhood and regime change.
Love for Love, by William Congreve and directed by Selina Cadell will play for the very first time in Stratford, in the Swan from October 28 to January 22.
Queen Anne, directed by Natalie Abrahami runs from November 19 to January 23.
Helen Edmundson was commissioned by the RSC to write this gripping play about the relationship between Queen Anne and the Duchess of Marlborough.
Gregory Doran, artistic director of the RSC, said: “Our winter season pits love against war. We mark the 600th anniversary of the Battle of Agincourt with Henry V, continuing our journey through Shakespeare’s History Plays and exploring Prince Hal’s new-found power and responsibility as King of England, following the death of his father, King Henry IV.
“Taking a look at conflict through other eyes, we have commissioned Marina Carr to write a play about the defeated queen, Hecuba, wife of King Priam of Troy and mother of Hector, Paris and Cassandra.
“Erica Whyman will direct this re-imagining of Euripides’ great tragedy, which considers what price we are prepared to pay for victory.
“We will follow this in the Swan Theatre with two fascinating plays, celebrating the 18th Century. First is the extraordinary story of another queen, Queen Anne, and her very close relationship with the Duchess of Marlborough.
“Helen Edmundson weaves a tale of secrets and intrigue in her new play, directed by Natalie Abrahami.
“Queen Anne will play in repertoire with William Congreve’s Love For Love, directed by Selina Cadell. We have never performed this before – and indeed have only ever staged one Congreve play.
“I am delighted we continue to use the Swan stage to bring lesser-known classics to a contemporary audience.
“We want to make Stratford the most exciting destination in the UK for audiences of all kinds in 2016 and this marks a key moment on that journey.
“Meanwhile, we have a rich programme for 2015. I am rehearsing Death of a Salesman, with Antony Sher, Harriet Walter and Alex Hassell, which opens in April.
“Death of a Salesman is, without doubt, in my mind, the greatest American play of the 20th Century.
“One of the reasons I feel justified in presenting this greatest of American tragedies in our main house on Shakespeare’s Birthday this year, is that it sits in its rightful place on our stage alongside Shakespeare’s greatest works.
“By linking it with King Lear, in sequence, with the same leading actor, and director, we assert that. After the success of Dominic Cooke’s production of The Crucible in 2006, I am delighted to be presenting Arthur Miller on the Royal Shakespeare Theatre stage in this centenary year.”
Public booking opens March 18.