Acclaimed actress Carmen Munroe, 83, will make her Shakespearean debut in an epic version of Richard III from rep theatre pioneers, The Faction.
The production company, which has had sell-out seasons as one of New Diorama’s associate ensembles, completes its six-year tenure at the London theatre with a grand finale of Richard III featuring a cast of 21.
Renowned for their visual inventiveness and storytelling clarity, The Peter Brook Award winners will create a suitably physical landscape for Shakespeare’s deformed villain.
Using the actors’ bodies they will produce every corporeal nuance of the iconic tale from wars to dances to ghosts and even the horse on which Richard rides into battle.
The company is drawn from a diverse range of backgrounds and with key roles re-gendered.
The initiative will also see performers from a range of nationalities and ethnic backgrounds take on Shakespearean roles rarely performed in the UK by non-white actors.
Rising star Christopher York will play Richard, with Carmen Munroe appearing as his mother Cicely, Duchess of York.
The production will be directed by The Faction’s artistic director Mark Leipacher.
Munroe, a founder of Talawa Theatre Company alongside Mona Hammond and Yvonne Brewster, made her West End debut in Tennessee Williams’ Period Of Adjustment in 1962 and starred alongside Norman Beaton in the Channel 4 sitcom Desmonds in the 1990s.
Although she has starred at the Royal Court, the Tricycle and even the Royal Shakespeare Company in plays by Lorca, Brecht, Shaw, August Wilson this will be her Shakespearean debut.
Said Munroe: “Why now? Better now than never! Shakespeare is like a Mecca – as an actor you have to visit him. He is daring; he writes such rich language. And in Richard III the women are so strong. I’m excited to speak these words, in this space, with this company.”
Christopher York has just finished playing Romeo in the Greenwich Theatre transfer of The Faction’s production of Romeo And Juliet.
He said: “They’re a company that nurture emerging artists and offer them phenomenal opportunities. I’ve been given the chance to explore roles as contrasting as Romeo and Richard – that’s unreal. The Faction is a true ensemble; it feels like a family.”
Other company members include Alexander Guiney, Lachlan McCall, Anna-Maria Nabirye and Kate Sawyer from The Faction’s core ensemble, alongside guest performers Sakuntala Ramanee, Jeremy Ang Jones and Topher Naylor.
Richard III will run at the New Diorama Theatre from January 5 – February 6.